Friday, January 05, 2024

Dr. Andrés Tijerina Nominated "2023 Texan of the Year" because 10th Graders in Texas can now learn the history of Mexican Americans


So happy to acknowledge that my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Andrés Tijerina was nominated for the Dallas News "Texan of the Year 2023" award. I like the story that the newspaper editors wrote about him below. While he did not ultimately prevail, it is such an incredible honor nonetheless to get ranked among of list of luminaries like "Yellowstone" creator Taylor Sheridan, Pulitzer prize-winning author, Lawrence Wright, the storied former Texas Prairie View A&M President Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, and others—all of whom lost out to the Atty. General Ken Paxton whistleblowers.

It's wonderful that this piece nevertheless mentions Dr. Tijerina's, as well as my husband's, Dr. Emilio Zamora, co-edited anthology for 10th graders titled,“The History of Mexican Americans in Texas: A History of Tradition and Struggle." The other authors that contributed to this anthology are Texas A&M University College Station Associate Professor of History Sonia Hernández; Texas A & M -San Antonio History Professor Amy Porter; and University of Houston History Professor Guadalupe San Miguel. Early critical reviews are already suggesting that this is going to be a blockbuster! Super exciting!

This is not just a personal, but also a community, achievement as it is very much integral to the advances of the Texas Mexican American and Ethnic Studies Movement before the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) about which I have blogged significantly. 

Specifically, in 2018, our struggle resulted in policy that allows for elective courses in the areas of both Mexican American Studies and African American Studies to be taught in Texas public schools. The text is in its last stages and is due to come out in 2024. 

I very much believe that, among other factors like changing demographics and the Black Lives Matter movement, so much of the backlash in Texas politics that we are witnessing today (against CRT, DEI, book bans, etc.) is an artifact of our success. After all, this is exactly what played out years earlier in Arizona when Mexican American Studies was banned in the Tucson Unified School District which actually motivated us back in 2013 to be strategic and take action before the SBOE. We KNEW back then that the backlash was headed our way. It all connects.

I know first-hand how this has been a slow and patient process. Hats off to both Andrés and Emilio for going the distance. So proud of you both.

Andrés, you're still our Texan of the Year! Felicidades! Congratulations! It was fun breaking the news of your nomination to you.

Despite all the politics, it's still a bit stunning that this is the first book of its kind to find a home in Texas public schools. It will be of course available for folks everywhere once completed. 

-Angela Valenzuela


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

10th graders in Texas can now learn the history of Mexican Americans

Andrés Tijerina is a finalist for 2023 Texan of the Year.

Andrés Tijerina, a Texas historian, is the co-author of a textbook on the History of Mexican Americans. Tijerina also won the Tejano Book Prize in 2023.


2:00 AM on Dec 25, 2023'

Andrés Tijerina still remembers a Texas where Latino kids were not allowed in swimming pools, barber shops or theaters. When he was a child in West Texas, attending school and learning English meant defiance.

He was a cotton picker who managed to earn a doctoral degree in history in the ‘70s at the University of Texas in Austin. Even then, he was not allowed to write a dissertation on Mexican American history. He wrote it anyway, labeling it “American history.”

This defiance has allowed Tijerina, 79, to be a historian with a never-ending curiosity, but with the added value that he has lived through this Texas history himself. His new book for 10th graders, “The History of Mexican Americans in Texas,” co-authored with Emilio Zamora, is expected to publish soon.

“You have a state that is absolutely based on the Mexican culture. And there has never been a history of that Mexican culture in Texas. This is the first book ever. And what’s more significant is that it is a textbook for all 10th graders in all school districts,” Tijerina told us.

After enduring discrimination during his youth, his college years were transformative. The first time he was seen as an equal was at Texas A&M University, he told us. He became a military cadet and later joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Tijerina retired from Austin Community College in 2018, but his inquisitiveness about Texas and the Mexican American culture has not receded. In 2022, he published Beasley’s Vaqueros: The Memoirs, Art, and Poems of Ricardo M. Beasley, after 15 years of compiling illustrations by Beasley, a vaquero who drew some of the few known images of actual vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys. For this book, he was awarded the Tejano Book Prize in 2023.

“I’ve seen all the movies and paintings of the Anglo-American cowboys [like] John Wayne. I never saw anything of a Latino, who were the original vaqueros.”

Not only is he still writing history books, but Tijerina is also busy as an expert witness in some lawsuits. Whenever there is a case of discrimination against Latinos, in voting rights or education, he sometimes is tapped to write a report. He is compiling some of this information for an eventual book as well.

The Texas he was born in has changed a lot. Tijerina still recalls how Jim Crow was hard on Latinos and how many got lynched without due process. “Today you can actually get arrested for killing a Latino,” he said.

Another thing that has changed since his West Texas days is how Mexican culture is now omnipresent, and he points to the recent World Series as an example. “They’re singing the song about baseball, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. But they’re all eating tacos and nachos and salsa. … Well, that’s a big change.”

For continuing to explain our history for the next generations, Andrés Tijerina is a finalist for Texan of the Year.

We are announcing our Texan of the Year finalists in a countdown to naming the 2023 honoree on Sunday, Dec. 31. You can follow all of the finalists as they are published at

We welcome your thoughts in a letter to the editor. See the guidelines and submit your letter here. If you have problems with the form, you can submit via email at


  1. Anonymous12:23 PM

    What great news. Finally, our children will learn the TRUE history of TEXAS from an expert and History Professor who experienced the same history!
    Geneva Sanchez

  2. Anonymous8:43 PM

    Excellent pioneering work, glad to have read this piece.

  3. Anonymous9:57 PM

    What we are missing in Texas from our Latinos is unity and the ability to get them to vote in elections.

  4. Anita Sylvia Garcia1:15 PM

    At long last, the students of Texas will have access to the history of Texas that includes the Tejano experiences. Congratulations to Dr. Tijerina and Dr.Zamora and the countless citizens who testified at the State Board of Education to ensure that our history is given due credit.