Kristin Kane, My Fox Houston, December 19, 2011
Houston’s Hispanic community is outraged over a mural in the basement of a University of Houston building.
UH is planning to renovate its student University Center.
But that’s putting a mural of the 1960s “Chicano Movement” in jeopardy.
That’s not sitting well with current students, alumni and community activists.
“This one looks like it’s in very good shape,” an alumnus said. “How dare they talk about taking it down.”
For nearly 40 years, the “Cougar Den” has been home to the mural.
“This is a location for all new student orientations and this is the first thing that welcomes new students to our university,” student Deyadira Trevino said.
“We’re here to fight for our history,” alum Hector Chavana Jr. said. “We’re not going to allow anybody to destroy or whitewash our history and we’re ready to fight tooth and nail to make sure our mural is preserved.”
“This used to be a cafeteria and all the tables were here where the Mexican-American students sat and that’s why this was the location of the mural,” Jimenez said.
It also depicts an important part of history.
“It’s a beautiful piece of art, it should be preserved,” student Cesar Espinosa said. “It’s something I can identify with and I know a lot of my fellow Cougars who are Latinos or Chicanos can identify with.”
Just minutes after Monday’s press conference, UH Executive Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin responded.
“There’s a lot of passion for preserving pieces of history and the university at no point considered destroying it,” Bonnin said. “It was always our priority to preserve it.”
UH has even hired an art conservator.
“During the remodeling process, we want to make sure nothing happens to the mural obviously,” Bonnin said. “So that may mean we have to take it down and remove it, clean it and remount if and figure out the best location so the most people can have access to it.”
The group will not give up their fight until they see final plans on paper from the university about “how” the mural will be preserved and “where” it will be located.