Centennial History Project Announced

HISPANIC HISTORY: ¡Latinos Presentes!, a project which will address the rich Hispanic culture that exists in Oklahoma, was recently discussed at a luncheon held at the long-time Tulsa landmark El Rancho Grande on Histroic Route 66. Pictured from left are Cristina Rodriguez, granddaughter of El Rancho Grande’s original owners; Sara Martinez, coordinator of the Tulsa Library Hispanic Resource Center;Tulsa Councilwoman Maria Barnes; and Jeff Walden, owner of El Rancho Grande.

Courtesy Yolanda Charney

Who were the Hispanics who worked the mines and laid the railroads in Oklahoma at the time of statehood? Where are their families today? ¡Latinos Presentes!, an Oklahoma centennial Hispanic history project, aims to answer these questions and more.

The project was announced at a recent luncheon of the Tulsa Library’s Hispanic Resource Center’s project committee. It was held at the long-time Tulsa landmark El Rancho Grande on Histroic Route 66. The luncheon was hosted by owners John and Jeff Walden.

The project’s mission stems from a desire to diversify the celebration of Oklahoma’s Centennial in Nov. 2007 by demonstrating through oral histories and pictorial essays of early Tulsa area families the presence of Hispanics in Oklahoma since statehood and beyond, addressing subsequent waves of immigration.

The end result will be a book, video/DVD, an interactive internet site and a permanent vertical file archival collection containing historical moments of local Hispanic families and non-profit organizations.

While Spanish explorers are known to have traveled through Oklahoma territory in the 1500s, the Hispanics present at statehood were the Mexican laborers who were among those building the railroads and working in the mines. The Centennial Hispanic History Project ¡Latinos Presentes! will tell the stories of those individuals and show the constant presence of Hispanics in Oklahoma from statehood to the present day. This project will serve as a teaching tool by countering stereotypes and achieving a better understanding of the rich history of Hispanic culture in Oklahoma.

A variety of groups and organizations have partnered to make the project a success, including the Hispanic Resource Center of the Tulsa City-County Library, the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the city of Tulsa and Tulsa Community College.

The project is headed by Yolanda Charney, a member of the Tulsa Centennial Steering Committee; Sarah Martinez, Hispanic Resource Center of theTulsa City-County Library; Professor Rodger Randle, University of Oklahoma department of human relations and director of the Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture; Dr. Michael M. Smith, author and Oklahoma State University professor of history; Teresa Valero, school of art, University of Tulsa; and Tina Peña, international studies, Tulsa Community College.

Updated 08-22-2006

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