HOUSTON — Hispanic Heritage Month allows an opportunity for us to learn about five Latina icons. The Houston trail blazers cleared the way for more of us to succeed.
All five women left a footprint on Houston’s Greater East End neighborhood.
“East End Houston is so critical to Houston’s Hispanic heritage and history,” Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said. “So much success, so much growth has been born out of this community.”
The neighborhood sits just east of downtown Houston and has taken on the trendy nickname: EaDo.
Among the community’s notable residents are: Nelly Moyano-Fraga. She’s a social worker born in Ecuador who moved to Houston where she transformed the lives of many.
Musician Norma Zenteno electrified crowds with her unique mix of salsa and jazz.
Angela Morales was described as a 5-foot tall fireball who grew up in a segregated East End. She and her husband, Felix, opened Houston’s first funeral home and cemetery for Hispanics. The couple also launched the first Hispanic radio station in Houston.
Yolanda Black Navarro, is described as a champion for the East End who fought for all Houstonians to be treated equally. She advised mayors on the needs of the Hispanic community and founded the Association for the Advancement of Mexican-Americans.
Graciela Saenz has used her University of Houston law degree to fight for juvenile justice and victims of domestic violence. She’s the first Hispanic woman to hold a citywide city council position.
Saenz is now one of five Latina icons featured on a 40-foot by 80-foot mural near the intersection of Baird and Clay.
“They cannot not see us anymore,” said Saenz of the artwork celebrating the Hispanic Houstonians. “It says, we are here and we are going to be here and we are part of this community.”
The artwork is painted on a wall of Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School.
QR Codes painted alongside the mural link to biographies and stories that connect the women with the community.
Gelson Lemus, a Guatemalan born Houstonian, created the art.
“Well, it was exciting,” said Garcia who helped to unveil the mural during a ceremony in June. “So many pioneers, so many sacrifices, but by the same token, so much prosperity that came from them walking this earth.”
“We are part of this incredible country and we bring with us a great number of talents,” said Saenz who credits many of her successes to her education, which is why the mural’s location is vital to the success of the next generation.
“Hopefully that will put them on a journey for greatness, just like these ladies,” said Garcia.
A celebration of trailblazing women who remind us that overcoming the challenges of the past can help to fuel our future.
Five Latina icons, proof that women have and continue to make a difference.