AP NEWS

Iconic Henry B. González mural unveiled at convention center

May 16, 2019

Community leaders and residents gathered Wednesday evening as a re-created mural of the late Congressman Henry B. González was unveiled on a wall inside the convention center bearing his name.

More than 50 members of González’s family were among those who watched closely as curtains drew back, revealing the iconic public servant’s face. Cheers and applause filled the room. Many used their cell phones to film the unveiling.

The image is a re-creation of the legendary mural depicting González that long graced the concrete walls of Estela’s Restaurant on the city’s West Side. That original mural, created by San Antonio artist Ronald Rocha, was destroyed in December 2017 after the restaurant had closed and the building’s new owner allowed the image to be painted over.

Attorney Louis Escareño, who lives near the former restaurant, made the mural’s re-creation possible. He tracked down Rocha, purchased the rights to the artwork and commissioned artist Analy Diego to re-create the image. Diego, an instructor of architecture and design at the University of Texas at San Antonio, used graphic design software to digitally re-create the image, allowing it to be projected on any surface regardless of the size.

Escareño said he invested more than $2,000 in the mural’s re-creation, while the city paid to put the image on canvas and install it in the convention center.

“I was bothered that it was destroyed with no real concern over the significance of the image and what it represented,” Escareño said of the original mural. “I felt it ought to be restored, because now more than ever, the memory of Henry B. and what he did is significant.”

González, Texas’ first Mexican-American congressman, was 84 years old when he died in 2000. He served 37 years in Congress — from 1961 until 1998. He previously served on San Antonio City Council and in the Texas Senate.

He is revered for fighting to end racial segregation at public swimming pools, battling Jim Crow laws, establishing HemisFair and helping launch the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

“Congressman González dedicated his storied career to the betterment of our citizens’ quality of life and to the furtherance of equal economic and social opportunity for the Mexican-American community and beyond,” said Rabbi Chaim Block of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning.

Block described the late Congressman as “a larger-than-life hero” and a champion of civil rights.

Precinct 4 Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert reminded listeners that “Henry B.” helped create the Community Reinvestment Act in the late 1970s, which aims to keep financial institutions from redlining loans to borrowers in Hispanic and black communities.

“Your father obviously was a trailblazer,” Calvert said to González’s children. “Being a trailblazer means that you do things where you are marginalized, where you are ostracized.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg celebrated the return of the public servant’s image.

“This project, this very special mural that we thought was lost, is here to stay — thank God,” Nirenberg said to applause.

Peggy O’Hare covers housing, demographics and the census in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | pohare@express-news.net | Twitter: @Peggy_OHare