Download Full Coloring Book below:
Teaching Idea #1: Talk about Mexican and Mexican American Culture.
Teaching Idea #2: Listen to Oral History Interviews with the Austin History Center. What can you learn about the history of Latinos in Austin?
Teaching Idea #3: Learn about the history of the Limon Family in Austin (below)
Teaching Idea #4: Read the full history of the ESB-MACC (below)
History of Latinx Families in Austin: A Story of the Limon Family (2017)
Below is a short documentary edited by the Teens of the Caminos Leadership Program for the Exhibit "Home is Where the Heart Is", curated by Gloria Espitia. The exhibit explores the history of the Latino traditional families and homes of East Austin in the current environment of heavy gentrification in the barrios of the East Side.
The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) originally was named the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). The history of this symbolical building can be traced back to the early 1970s when local Mexican American/Latino artists, community activists and cultural arts supporters began to question why Austin did not have a cultural arts center that was specifically representative of the Mexican American community. It was their vision to have a facility that would showcase the talents of Latino artists and be fully dedicated to their culture and history. It was during this decade that cultural activism began to play an active role in paving the way for the Mexican American community to promote their rich traditions and culture. The founding of El Centro Chicano, the incorporation of the League of United Chicano Artists (LUChA), the formation of El Museo del Barrio, and the initiation of Juarez –Lincoln University by local Mexican American artists and activists as a community space for cultural expression, was just the beginnings of the trajectory that this community would take in the creation of a Mexican American Cultural Center.
SEARCHING FOR A CULTURAL ARTS SPACE: 1980's
In 1983, Juarez -Lincoln University, which was located at 797 E. Cesar Chavez was demolished to make way for an IHOP. It was at this time that the Mexican American community was once again left without a cultural arts space. On April 4, 1985, El Concilio de East Town Lake Citizens, the League of United Chicano Artists (LUChA), the Town Lake Park Alliance and the East Austin Economic Development Corporation approached the Austin City Council with a plan to build a Mexican American Cultural Center at Fiesta Gardens. On August 7, 1986, City Council adopted a resolution approving the creation of the first Mexican American Cultural Center Task Force to establish the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin. Carlos Pineda, Art School Director for the Dougherty Arts Center was appointed as the project manager. In early 1988, the City contracted the services of a major consulting team to conduct a comprehensive study on the feasibility and operational aspects of a center. On May 19, 1988, City Council accepted from the Task Force, the Mexican American Cultural Center Feasibility Study which examined more than 100 locations and settling on the site of the City’s Public Works Maintenance Yard at 600 River Street which at the time, located in a barrio neighborhood and not considered a valuable spot by developers. Fiesta Gardens, which was the first potential site purposed in 1985 was eliminated by the Task Force as they felt that a centrally located site would be better than a neighborhood site. On June 29, 1989, City Council indefinitely designated for a five year period (with the option for renewal), 600 River Street as the location of the Mexican American Cultural Center. At that time, the Council placed the MACC on the August 1992 Bond Election.
THEY PUSHED ON: 1990's
The 1990s was a decade of emotional ups and downs for all who worked very hard to have a Mexican American Cultural Center built. In a November 1992 bond election, Austin voters rejected a $10 million bond proposition that would have created the Mexican American Cultural Center. Despite the narrow loss, in 1993, City Council thru a resolution, continued to reserve for an additional five (5) years, the 6.5 acres of 600 Rivers Street as the site for the construction of the MACC. On April 22nd, City Council directed the City Manager to do an in-house study to determine the feasibility of relocating City operations from the site and exploring the possibility of converting existing buildings for use as a temporary site for the cultural arts center. The study included site condition and conversion issues as well as cost for each of the six buildings at the site. On May 3rd and 5th, 1996, two contemporary sunrise ceremonies took place at the MACC site at 6:15 a.m. each morning. The purpose of the ceremonies was to heal the land based on indigenous traditions. Also included was the planting of a Mexican buckeye “ayoyoti” tree as well as sculpture by local artist David Santos which was erected near tree. In November, 1997 a successful community initiative was undertaken by using several of the buildings located at the site for the discussion of the center and also for the usage of a performance theater. La Pastorela, a bilingual musical-comedy was the first play performed in the Maintenance Yard Facility Service Center #2. During the same month, the MACC Task which was formed in 1986 became the Center for Mexican American Cultural Arts (CMACA) and was incorporated in 1998. In March, 1998, Mayor Pro Tem, Gus Garcia and Travis County Commissioner, Margaret Gomez, sent a memorandum to City Council and the Citizens Bond Committee requesting that the MACC be placed in the 1998 Bond Election. On November 3, 1998, the voters of Austin passed the bonds for construction of the MACC. The proposition was not a stand- alone item but instead was grouped under funding for “libraries, museums, and cultural centers.”
UN SUEÑO BONITO: 2000 – Present
As the 20th century came to an end, it is became clear that the Mexican American/ Latino community will not have to wait another decade to see their dream for a Mexican American Cultural Center be realized. On January 13, 2000, City Council approves a professional service agreement with Casabella + Del Campo & Maru Joint Venture and world-class Mexican architect, Teodor Gonzalez de Leon for architectural design and construction phase services for the Mexican American Cultural Center. The City also decides that a Master Plan was needed prior to commitment of the architectural design services in order to define the actual scope of these services. As a result several community workshops and meetings were held during the summer months. It was decided that the MACC would be built in three (3) phases. In December 2000, the Parks and Recreation Department becomes more involved in the MACC planning process and on June 8, City Council passes a resolution that allows City Council to appoint board members to the CMACA Board. On November 7th, CMACA is replaced as the planning board for the MACC, and an ordinance is passed by City Council to amend the City Code to add a new chapter 9-3, establishing a Mexican American Cultural Center, and a new article LV, chapter 2-4 of the code creating the Mexican American Cultural Center Advisory Board. All community events held at the MACC come to an end in December 2002 with the complete demolition of the existing Maintenance Yard Facility buildings. Due to budget constraints and other setbacks, the MACC ground breakings originally scheduled for 2004 and 2005 are postponed. Construction of the MACC started in January 2006 and was completed in June 2007. Although the Grand Opening of the Mexican American Cultural Center was not to occur until September 16, 2007, some individuals were given a sneak peek on Thursday, July 27, 2007. The preview which was a volunteer drive was limited to the first floor auditorium and the auditorium’s lobby. Amparo Garcia-Crow, the first Cultural Arts Education Program Director of MACC was there to greet them as were her staff and other City officials as well as other important individuals. In 2009, Phase 1B was completed. On August 25, 2010, the MACC was renamed after Emma Serrato Barrientos, as a testament or her dedication, community involvement and to her commitment to the Austin Latino arts.
During the past four (4) decades, the concept of a Mexican American Cultural Center has changed with the times as well as the demands and needs. There have been numerous struggles and hardships in pursuing a dream of a cultural center that best identifies with the Mexican American/Latino community. The ESB-MACC today is dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation, and promotion of the cultural arts of Mexican Americans and Latino cultures.