By Alfredo Santos
La Voz de Austin
AUSTIN — When I moved to Austin, Texas eight years ago I quickly noticed how people would refer to Guadalupe Street as “Gwadaloop.” I also heard the neighborhood Del Valle called “Del Valley.” But the real killer for me was the TV commercials by the body and fender shop Elis and Salazar. The announcer would pronounce “Salazar,” as “Salaaaazar.”
Then I realized that some people in Central Texas were either trying to “blend in” or “fade away.” The other name in Austin, Texas that bothered me was the street “Manchaca.” I said to myself, I have never heard of Manchaca. I have heard of Menchaca, but not Manchaca.
One day former Mayor Gus Garcia told me that when he was on the school board, the district decided to build an elementary school at FM 1626 and Manchaca Road in deep South Austin. During the discussions and deliberations, he insisted that the school be named
Menchaca Elmentary School, and in the end that is what happened.
Well, now comes retired judge Bob Perkins who was raised on the border around Eagle Pass. Judge Perkins must have also been bothered by the way some of the Spanish names in Austin have taken a verbal beating because he is now spearheading a campaign to get the street name of Manchanca changed to Menchaca.
The judge argues that the continued assault on the name Menchaca amounts to a disservice to the Texas Army hero in the Battle of Jacinto after whose name the street is supposedly named after. Of course there are those who are going to come out and oppose the judge’s desire to change the name of Manchaca Road for a whole host of reasons.
Among the reasons will be the cost, the tradition and the inconvenience. But there will be those who see this effort as yet another attempt for Latinos to capture and retake the Southwest. Some will invoke the Americana argument that this great nation was founded by Anglos and that English is the language of the land and should reign supreme.
Who will win out? How long will this battle of Menchaca last? Only time will tell. What we do know is that over the years there has been similar battles to change street names that have stirred much resentment. I am thinking of course of those streets that are now named after Cesar Chavez.
Austin, Texas changed First Street to Cesar Chavez Street many years ago. But in San Antonio, Texas, a city with a large Latino population, the struggle to get a street named after the legendary labor leader went on for years. It was only recently that the
new signs have gone up identifying Cesar Chavez Street in San Antonio, Texas.
For those who are interested in helping Judge Perkins with his campaign to change Manchaca to Menchaca, contact him through La Voz de Austin at (512) 944-4123.