Friday, January 05, 2024

A Personal Reflection on The 1619 Project and a Word of Thanks to my Husband, Dr. Emilio Zamora


I’m reading The 1619 Project: A New American Origin Story written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Nicole Hannah-Jones, that I highly recommend. My husband, Dr. Emilio Zamora, a recent past president of the Texas State Historical Association, and I had an amazing conversation this morning about this book and the history of slavery and the Civil War.

Emilio says that it’s a conventional history on the topic, despite what literally outlawing it, as Texas has done, to suggest otherwise. The difference is the context in which it appears. “There are critical texts going back for decades,” he said, rattling off a few. My main statement in response is that it’s also so very well written. “It’s honest,” he responded.
He went on to discuss the different interpretations of the reasons for the Civil War and the ideological camps into which scholars themselves fall in his characteristic manner of great detail. You're such a treasure, Emilio.

This morning's conversation reminded me of just how terrible and backward it is for states like Texas and Florida to not just ban, but also distort and misrepresent texts like these. I asked him if he thought that the negative press might have a boomerang effect and draw readers to it.

He hesitated, saying that he wasn't sure. "Most people don't read history," he said. This was not what I wanted to hear. I like to think that the bad press is drawing a new generation of readers to texts like these. After all, it's the "forbidden fruit." I trust that it will sometime soon join the literary canon as a must-read not unlike Howard Zinn's, A People's History of the United States.

This morning reminded me of why I married a historian. What an honor and privilege to read this and so many other texts that we can share and chew on at any time he or I wish.

As mentioned in my earlier post, Emilio has a forthcoming anthology that he is co-editing with the inimitable historian, Dr. Andrés Tijerina. It's titled, The History of Mexican Americans in Texas and will be available this year to 10th graders in Texas public schools. My heart is full.

It’s awesome and profound to think that we are both the fulfillment of each other’s dreams for this life we’ve lived.

Thank you, Emilio. Please forgive me for the many times that I have taken you for granted. I can't imagine my life without you. You, our children, son-in-law, grandchildren, and extended family make my life whole. It's all so humbling. Gracias!

Love you! Por vida! 💗

-Angela Valenzuela

Hannah-Jones, N. (2021). The 1619 Project: A New American Origin Story. Random House.

Tijerina, A. & Zamora, E. (in press). The History of Mexican Americans in Texas: 
A History of Tradition and Struggle. Kendall Hunt Publishers.

Zinn, H. (1980). A People's History of the United States. Harper & Row.

Photo credit: Juanita Tijerina Dec. 19, 2023, San Antonio, Texas

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