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Hernandez / Brown Berets Still in Odessa

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Hernandez: I think it was called Aztlan. Zapata: How long did that last? Hernandez: I do not know maybe a year two years. They put up a ring in there and had some boxing coaches in there and that sort. Before that he had another pace and then moved into that place, I cannot remember. I think the YMCA ended up buying that old school. The YMCA took it over and opened up a YMCA there then shut it down. It was abandoned for years and years. I think about 2007 -8 I went to the city council. I learned a lot from Raul. I went to the council and petitioned the council for money for – I cannot remember where the money came from but it was for the redevelopment of the community. Community Development funds. I would notice that none of that money was ever applied to that end of town, but anyway. I petitioned the council for money to build a park there. We got it done. We got the park done. They gave us the money for the park. It was named- I cannot remember, but it was named after one of the first families to own land on Odessa. Ramirez Park. Zapata: Was the Brown Beret member helped get the money for Ramirez Park? Hernandez: Actually, I was like a lone wolf then. By that time, Raul had moved, all the Berets had gone, they were non existent. It was like- there was a big Cinco De Mayo celebration and it went wrong. They lost thousands of dollars and the whole community was up in a roar. They turned against Raul and the organizers. It turned into a money thing. Everybody that was not from Odessa left town. I live here. Zapata: So, how long was the Brown Beret organization last here in Odessa? Hernandez: We are still here. It’s a few of us, but we do not have to put a Beret on to be Berets. It is something that is in your heart. It is who you are. We have our Berets, and every now and then when they have the national meeting we will go to see what is going on. Like in El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, we will go check it out to see what is going on. As a matter of fact, I hosted a meeting here I think like two years ago. Right here in this building we had people coming in. We had a good 150 – 200 people show up. From all over Texas, you know. We had a conference where everybody introduced themselves, and talked about what they were doing and their thoughts. See, one thing about the Berets in Odessa, we always heard like some of the Berets- and I have to be careful with this because they were saying they wanted to take over Aztlan. Aztlan was California, Tejas, Arizona, the whole southwest. They got pretty radical. “At whatever cost we are going to take over our land. Fight the United States and take this land back.” And us here in Odessa, we had a different concept of things. Raul always told us you have to learn the ways. You have to get educated and you have to learn the methods, the tactics, the laws. You have to use those same things to get what you want, so we – when all the Berets came to town and we had meetings here, we were always different. Our pack was always different. We do not carry weapons. We do not beat up anybody. We are going to get things done but get it done the legal way. There is got to be a reason for doing it. We are not going in there a fight for a cause that is just not even a cause.

Interview Interview with Nick Hernandez
Subjects Community Organizations › Community Organizations and Institution-Building
Chicano Power › Brown Berets
Chicano Power › Aztlán
Ideology › Radicalism
Tags YMCA
Guerrero, Raul
Ramirez Park, Odessa, TX
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Interview date 2016-07-08
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Hernandez, Nick
Locations Houston, TX
San Antonio, TX
El Paso, TX
Odessa, TX
Duration 00:06:04
Citation "Brown Berets Still in Odessa," from Nick Hernandez oral history interview with ,  July 08, 2016, Odessa, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, https://crbb.tcu.edu/clips/2979/brown-berets-still-in-odessa, accessed December 05, 2019