Refusing to Forget is an educational non-profit founded in 2013 by Monica Muñoz Martinez, Sonia Hernández, Trinidad Gonzales, John Morán González, and Benjamin Johnson. The team develops public history projects to highlight the consequences of a long history of anti-Mexican violence on the US-Mexico border. The group also profiles the struggle for justice and civil rights that continues to influence social relations today. The team developed an award-winning exhibit with the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas called Life and Death on the Border, 1910 – 1920. The exhibit marked the first time a state cultural institution acknowledged state responsibility for this period of racial terror in the twentieth century. The team also collaborated with the Texas Historical Commission to secure four state historical markers along the US-Mexico border.
Connecting truthfully with the past requires a fuller understanding of histories of racial violence. Mapping Violence is a digital research project that aims to expose interconnected histories of violence, the legacies of colonization, slavery, and genocide that intersect in Texas. Although often separated in academic studies and in public memory, these histories coalesced geographically, temporally, and in some cases the same agents of violence moved across the state targeting different racial and ethnic groups. This multifaceted project includes compiling a digital archive of histories of racial violence, research for each documented case, curated content (including digital tours and historical essays), and an interactive map where users will be able to search the database. Researched cases include multiple forms of violence (at the hands of law enforcement, US soldiers, and vigilantes) that targeted multiple racial and ethnic groups (African Americans, Mexican Americans, Mexican nationals, Asian Americans, Native Americans and European immigrants). Making these histories accessible and useful for the public is a crucial step towards learning from a violent past to inform our future.
Confronting Racist Violence: National Record for the Truth, Repair, and Equity
Yesterday’s racial violence shapes today’s culture, institutions, policies and fates. And yet, the full scope of the historical trauma experienced by racial and ethnic minorities living in the United States is still unknown, with generations of families still waiting for justice. The project “Confronting Racist Violence” seeks to create the first national record of racist violence to inform recovery efforts and develop racial redress projects that shine a brighter light on injustice and promote racial healing. Collaborators include Monica M. Martinez, Associate Professor of History at The University of Texas at Austin, Margaret A. Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law at Northeastern University, and Geoff K. Ward, Professor of African and African-American Studies at Washington University at St. Louis. The team submitted the project in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity 2030 global challenge.