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October 24, 2023

Black Mexicans, Part 1: Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans in Texas and Mexico

By: Mando Rayo

There is so much untold and uncovered history of the African diaspora, especially that within the lineages of slavery. Food can signal a variety of possibilities within history, and in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington, both descendants of Black Seminoles and of Mexican heritage for a Juneteenth celebration in Brackettville before making a pilgrimage to Nacimiento de los Negros in Coahuila, Mexico. We uncover their connecting points, foodways, and how they are preserving and continuing their culture and history.

The full transcript of this episode of Tacos of Texas is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Intro Hi, my name is Francis Jordan and I am a community connector from Austin, Texas. To me, tacos sound like the juice dripping from the meat off the side of the taco because it’s full of flavor. And I just get excited when my tacos do that. My name is Francis Jordan and you’re listening to Tacos of Texas on KUT.

Mando Rayo Y por qué es importante para para ti? Para celebrar Juneteenth o como le dicen en México.

Speaker 3 Le dijimos Juneteenth es importante porque mis antepasados vinieron de ahí. O sea, era nuestra libertad de nosotros. Aunque dicen que los. Los Seminole se liberaron solos cuando viajaron de Texas para México, después que ellos viajaron y se liberaron solos. Después se hizo la la, se levantó la emancipación que ya no iban a ser esclavos. Pero como quiera celebramos junto con ellos porque venimos del mismo, de la misma raíz. [music]

Mando Rayo What’s up taco world? I’m taco journalist Mando Rayo and welcome to the Tacos of Texas podcast season tres, tres, tres produced by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. And we’re back exploring taco culture in Texas through the eyes of the people in the Lone Star State. So grab your AirPods and your travel snacks and get ready for some muy tasty taco conversations. [music]

Mando Rayo Who can say no to a variety of possibilities within history? And in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, and both the descendants of Black Seminoles and of Mexican heritage for a Juneteenth celebration in Brackettville, Texas, before making a pilgrimage to Nacimiento de los Negros in Coalhuila, Mexico. We uncover their connecting points, foodways and how they are preserving and continuing their culture and history. This is a special two part episode of Tacos of Texas, a story, a pilgrimage and a journey into Black Mexicans. In this episode, part one of Black Mexicans will be traveling to Brackettville in South Texas, just outside of Del Rio, and the border will continue the story for part two in Nacimiento de los Negros, just outside Múzquiz, Coalhuila, Mexico. And a reminder for you non-Spanish speakers out there, these episodes will be en Español and Inglés. So make sure you bring out your Duolingo or listen with a Spanish speaking friend. And for today’s episode, we’ll be talking with Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington to celebrate Juneteenth. We’ll talk to Black Seminoles from across Texas and we’ll get to see how they’re preserving their culture to the Juneteenth celebration, oral histories and their foodways. And that’s what we’ll be discussing on Tacos of Texas. [music] So where do they get this idea around Black Mexicans in Texas and Mexico? It was funny because I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, David Porter, and he actually was quizzing me. He was like, Mando, do you know where the largest African-American population in Texas, where it originally started? And he said, San Antonio. And I was like, What? Oh, my God. There has to be a connection, right, with the foodways around the Mexicanos that were here, the Indigenous people, but also, you know, the former slaves and African-Americans. And so part of this idea around Black Mexicans is, is tracing those foodways of Black Seminoles. And we’ll be talking about that a little bit further on today. You’ll definitely get a deep dive into some of that history. But I think for me as a Latino, just thinking about the intersection between, you know, Mexicanos and Black and Indigenous populations and also like some of those things that we don’t like to talk about, and that’s kind of that anti-Blackness and anti-Indigenous ways that a lot of us grew up in. And through these stories, I hope that we can learn and go beyond what was taught to us, but as well as like some of those things that actually weren’t taught in schools. So that’s really kind of at the core of this discussion around Black Mexicans. We’re going to talk about the Black Seminoles. We’re going to talk about Juneteenth, because that’s what we’re doing. And we’re really focusing in on the celebration of Juneteenth and the connection with Black Seminoles. According to Black Girl Nerds, quote, “There are Indigenous ethnicities that tend to escape the American imagination entirely. One is that of Black Indigenous person. These are people of both African and Native descent or belonging to Creole-ized ethnic groups that over centuries have blended parts of the African-American and Native American identities and practices into new distinct cultures.” The name Black Seminoles is historically and tribally the accepted name for persons of African descent who align themselves with the Seminole Indian tribe of Florida. So part of this story is what were those migration patterns? You know, how did they end up coming to Texas after the Trail of Tears and coming through and actually going into Mexico? An article in the National Geographic, the Southern Underground Railroad, as many as 5000 enslaved African-Americans escaped to freedom in Mexico after that country outlawed slavery in 1829. While most traveled on their own or in small groups, some were helped by an informal network of free African-Americans, Mexicanos, Tejanos and German settlers. Motivations for assisting the refugees were complex. Some did so out of sympathy, while others were paid to transport them across the border. In this same article, even though the Emancipation Proclamation declared enslaved people in the Confederacy free on January 1st, 1863, word had not fully spread to geographically isolated Texas, where slaveholders refused to comply with the federal orders. It wasn’t until the last battle of the war when the union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed that many enslaved people knew they were free. According to the book, Black Seminoles Gullahs Who Escaped from Slavery Facing the Threat of Enslavement, the Black Seminole leader John Horse and about 180 Black Seminoles staged a mass escape in 1849 to northern Mexico, where slavery had been abolished 20 years earlier. The Black fugitives cross to freedom in July 1850. They rode with a faction of traditionalist Seminole under the Chief Coacoochee, who led the expedition. The Mexican government welcomed the Seminole allies as border guards on the frontier, and they settled in. Nacimiento, Coalhuila. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t taught this in school, so I’m excited to learn more about this history. [music transitions into ad music with a crunch sound effect] Oh, it’s taco time. And now here’s a word from our sponsors from me. Vamos a Chuco Town con Visit El Paso. It’s the hometown of this taco journalist. On every corner of El Paso, you will find a variety of delicious cuisines that will suit any budget from authentic Mexican restaurants established several decades ago to up and coming award-winning restaurants, reinventing traditional dishes with a modern twist. El Paso’s food and drink scene is recognized for its range of flavors. The birthplace of the margarita. Few things go better with El Paso’s authentic selection of Mexican food than ice cold margaritas. With the introduction of the margarita in the 1940s just south of the border, the tangy and sweet drink soon became a staple in restaurants and bars across the region. Follow El Paso’s Margarita Trail by visiting one or more of these iconic establishments and treat yourself to some of the best margaritas you can find. The Kentucky Club, the world famous Kentucky Club takes pride in being one of the oldest bars in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and claiming to be the birthplace of the margarita. Craft breweries make up an exciting and growing segment of El Paso’s culinary culture. With places like Dead Beach, Old Sheepdog Brewery, Blazing Tree and others, beer fans and foodies can enjoy refreshment and light bites at one of the many breweries in town. Muchas gracias to our friends at Visit El Paso for sponsoring this podcast episode. Follow Visit El Paso on Instagram and Facebook at Visit El Paso or on their website at Visit El Paso dot com. We’re in Brackettville, Texas, in the heat of the summer. You can hear the cicadas, the chicharras, are having a night party. You can hear the rural sounds of South Texas, whether it’s a party across the street to the cars whizzing down and the dogs chasing right after them. Welcome to Brackettville.

Windy Goodloe Hello, my name is Windy Goodloe. We are here in Brackettville, Texas. I am the secretary of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association.

Corina Torralba Harrington My name is Corina Torralba. I’m from San Antonio, Texas. I’m the treasurer of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association.

Mando Rayo Windy, tell me how long you’ve been in Brackettville.

Windy Goodloe I’ve been in Bracket basically my whole life. I always joke that the only time I got out of Bracket was when I was born. I was born in Del Rio because at one point everybody was born at home. So I was born in Del Rio, raised here. I went to school here. So I have all these friends that I literally grew up with. And then I moved away after I graduated to Georgia to go to school, stayed in Georgia for 12 years, and then I returned to Brackett in 2010. So I’ve been here ever since then.

Mando Rayo And what spurred you to be part of the Seminole Society?

Windy Goodloe You know, at some point you’re around it enough that you want to help in some way. But I think the catalyst for me was coming back home and my aunt had just become President. So, you know, I’ve always sort of worked from home. But I was also taking care of my grandfather at the time. So I was at home all day and she would come and say, “Oh, I need to write this letter.” And I was like, “Well, give it to me. I can write the letter.” You know, so it started like that. Just helping her with like the administrative things that she needed done. And it felt like, you know, I was helping. I was a tangible, you know, that I was helping in some way and making a little bit of a difference, like I was making her life, her role as president easier. So I did that for many years. I always said that I was her underling. You know.

Mando Rayo Everybody needs an underling. [laughs]

Windy Goodloe So I don’t remember when I actually became secretary.

Mando Rayo So tell me, I guess, what is a Black Seminole?

Windy Goodloe Oh, gosh. [laughs] That’s a hard question.

Mando Rayo That’s a hard question?

Windy Goodloe Because I think one of the things that we deal with is our identity. That’s that’s part of what makes us all so interesting is it’s a very personal answer. And for me, what a Black Seminole is, as someone who was a descendant of formerly enslaved people, mostly Gullah, along the Lowcountry region of the US who emancipated themselves and found a safe haven in Florida, and they took up with the Seminole that were there. And so they have African-American and– African and Native American cultural identity. So for me, a Black Seminole is someone who is generally predominately African, but they have Native American characteristics or, you know, things that they do in their family that that sort of have a balance between both. It’s a very long answer. I know. I mean, we’re literally wrestling with that question. So it’s funny you would ask that because like, we literally are like in the middle of trying to figure out what does that mean? Because we both thought it was one thing. And then we went to Florida and we were like, Wow, People think completely different from the way we think. So we came back and were like, Well, what what do we do now?

Mando Rayo What did you think it was?

Windy Goodloe I thought it I thought everybody kind of thought the same way that we did, that, you know, that the Black holds as much weight as a Seminole, like they’re equal. Some people used to use Black as like a modifier, like, Oh, you’re this, but more of this. And I had come to the idea that Black and Seminole were equal in weight. We get to Florida, and there are some people who are very adamant about not being called Black, but they were just Seminole and that the word Black was kind of redundant because Seminole encapsulated everybody who was underneath it. So they’re saying that it was a homogenous group and that it was sort of a catch all for these smaller Native American tribes that were kind of dying out. But they found each other. So like the Yamassee, the Hitchiti, the Miccosukee, they all came together along with the Creek and then the Africans. And there were some Europeans, predominately Spanish, so it was all just an amalgamation of people. So yeah, we get to Florida and they’re like, Don’t say Black, you’re just Seminole. But I was like there’s a Seminole nation of Florida, you know?

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Windy Goodloe So yeah, that was yeah, that’s a long answer.

Mando Rayo No, that’s no, no. Thank you for that. Thank you for that. And so what is your family? Family lineage with Black Seminoles?

Windy Goodloe Well, as far as I trace back, I’ve only gone into Mexico in the mid 1800s. So when they got there in the 1850s. But I think most of my family identifies as Black. But we do have this interesting history, you know, So most of us, even in the Muster Rolls, they would classify people by color, by skin color. So I am a descendant of Joe Remo and he’s described as having darker Black skin. And I’m a descendant of Joseph Phillips, so he’s also described as having darker Black skin. And actually, Joe Remo was a Creek, so he wasn’t Seminole who he would have joined later. Yeah, my my family lineage is they were you know, I would assume that they looked more African than Native American. So, yeah, that’s how we continue to identify.

Corina Torralba Harrington I’m also part of the Black Seminoles, but I’m from the area of Mexico. When they left Oklahoma is where they ended up. So that’s where I was born. I was born in Nacimiento, Coalhuila. Now I consider myself of Mexican, of Black Seminole descent. I migrated to the United States when I was about seven years old with my family and Mexico is where I would go for our summer vacations after school.

Mando Rayo Did you know you were a Black Seminole when you were in Mexico?

Corina Torralba Harrington No, I was young. I was seven. So when when I left there, we always knew that we were of Afro descent because of my grandfather on my mom and my dad’s side. They were they were both Black Seminoles. But we didn’t know. We just knew we were Black. And about 2015, I come here to Windy, to the cemetery because my grandma, one of my grandfathers, is buried here and his brothers and and I meet Windy, and then I meet this whole association and this whole other.

Mando Rayo Maybe a new part of a family that you didn’t know.

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes and history that I didn’t know. There was an anthropologist that was here helping Windy. So I met her and she taught me a little bit about the association and how they needed help. And so then I got involved in the association, and I’ve been here ever since.

Windy Goodloe How did you meet Rocío?

Corina Torralba Harrington Through me.

Windy Goodloe Really? Because really, when Rocío came, she was I mean, if it hadn’t been for her, we would be on a very different trajectory. She came, I think, and injected like life into the organization again. So the way that the museum started was back in, I think it was 2014 into 2015, we had a Ph.D. candidate here named Rocío Gil. She’s now Dr. Rocío Gil, and she was studying Black Seminoles, but particularly the migration of the Black Seminoles. And she was here doing, you know, part of her study was to involve herself in everyday life. So she would come here literally every day and say, how, you know, what do you need help with what? And my aunt was president at the time and this building was sort of just sitting there. And my aunt said, you know, I’ve always wanted this to be a museum. And, you know, the hardest thing was coming up with what’s the story we’re trying to tell here in this space? It’s the story of the Black Seminoles in our own not really words, but through pictures. We start with our origin. We talk about the military history. You know what happened after that? We talk about how important these two buildings are, where the museum is housed in the Carver School here. We talk about our annual celebrations, Juneteenth and Seminole days. There’s also a space in there for Nacimiento. So Rocío came in and she introduced us to people in Brackett. Like I was telling you about her Lago she bought in Corina. I remember meeting you there. Well, first… did I meet Lee first, I don’t remember I think. No, because we came later. Yeah, but I think it was like the second or third time I met you. She bought me raspberry tea, and I was like this is so good. Where did you buy this? And after that, like, I was like, I like that Corina girl, and I drink raspberry tea all the time now that I think of her. But Rocío was doing interviews and just getting people to talk about, I guess, about Black Seminole, you know, being about but just about life. And there was just this energy that came from that like, wow, someone is interested in who we are. And it was agitating, but in a good way, like, what are we going to do now that we are falling in love with our history again? How do we keep this going? So the museum was a big step for us, even though it’s very small, very humble. It was a big deal because it was something, you know, something tangible. But yeah, she bought and folks from San Antonio, connected us with Nacimiento, started a website, so we got online. So there was a lot that she did. She really just sort of like I said, our trajectory changed. We were we stepped into the 21st century with her.

Mando Rayo Love it. Love it. Yeah. It sometimes it takes, you know, somebody that can see the gem that’s there. You know.

Windy Goodloe Yeah, yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Corina, after learning about the history of being a Black Seminole, what does that mean for you?

Corina Torralba Harrington After learning the history of being a Black Seminole and after going to school here in the United States and not ever hearing or learning about any of the history of the Black Seminoles, the wars that they fought in Florida. And not only that, but, you know, here in Texas, it all goes back to what we deal with, what we’ve been discovering and learning, and not everything that you learn in school is is a true history. And so for me, it’s important that people know this history that my my family, of course, and friends and just everybody that to know that we are part of the history of the United States, we are part of the history here in Texas as well as in Mexico.

Mando Rayo Windy, tell us about the Juneteenth celebration here in Brackett.

Windy Goodloe Juneteenth celebration here in Brackettville began approximately 40 plus years ago. And I need to research the history to make sure this. But I think I have a 1983 or 84 celebration was when it really just finally hit. Miss Charles Emily Wilson was the founder of our organization. She founded the Seminole Indians Scout Cemetery Association back in 1967. She was a retired teacher at the time, so she had so much time to devote to this history. They said that she would call reporters and say, hey, have you heard about the Black Seminoles? And and they would say, no. She said, well, do you have an hour? You know, you should talk to them. And so she was like a one woman PR machine for the Black Seminole, for our organization. And one of the things that I had drummed into me when I was a kid was that the kids were going to let this history go. Like, that’s all I’ve ever heard was we’re going to lose our history because they don’t care. So she started the Juneteenth celebration here in Brackett, and then later on Seminole days as a way to gather the kids and teach us about our history, that we wouldn’t forget it under the guise of, you know, parades and food and then dances, we would get an injection of history. So Juneteenth is, I think of it as like the counterpart to Seminole Day. So it’s a little funny. But, you know, we celebrate our Blackness on Juneteenth, the means to liberate our Native American history on Seminole days. But Juneteenth, for us is different in a way. So we emancipated ourselves before 1865. You know, we were in Mexico when that happened. But the way Miss Charles put it, you know, we celebrate Juneteenth in solidarity with our Black brothers brethren, although we were already free. We understand because of the travels of the Black Seminole, we as a people understand what freedom means. So we celebrate freedom for anybody because it’s more freedom for us, you know. So I think it’s interesting that we have celebrated this long, I don’t know, But I think Brackettville might be one of the longer standing Juneteenth celebrations. But the way that we came about, it was a little different from like where Galveston and places like that celebrate. So I think that’s interesting to our history.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Corina tell us how your family celebrates Juneteenth.

Corina Torralba Harrington The way my families have celebrated Juneteenth is everybody that lives in the United States, we drive to Mexico and we have people that live around in Múzquiz and around other little towns in Mexico that come into Nacimiento for the celebration. It’s, over there, it’s like a family reunion. We have more of the dancing, eating, you know, drinking and not so much of the history or kind of like I’m hearing that it’s, you know, going to be here. Over there, it’s just like you get there. We have what we call cabalgata which is the trail riders coming in to Nacimiento. And sometimes they make the horses dance and they do a little show like that. But and after that, that happens in the in the like around noon till about four. And after that, you know, whoever is there in town goes to family houses. And that’s where my job comes in, where I, you know, we have to make sure we have food for for visitors. And so it’s a long day for for me. But and then again in the evening, around seven, we have another dance gathering in Nacimiento, like towards the park area. And so everybody just goes out there and takes their beer and dance and.

Mando Rayo Has a good time.

Corina Torralba Harrington Has a good time.

Mando Rayo When you think about the history of Texas and Mexico, how it was all just one, one land? And and, you know, Windy, you talked a little bit about this idea of where some of the former slaves went down to Mexico and but they also came back. Is that right?

Windy Goodloe Well, this would have been the Black Seminoles who went. So, you know, after the the end of the second Seminole War around 1842, the way that that war was ended was that the U.S. military realized that it wasn’t the Seminoles that they needed to appease. It was the Black Seminoles that they needed to appease. So they said, what can we offer them? What can we tell them to stop this fighting and all they wanted was freedom. So General Jessup spoke with the three leaders of the Seminole, Black Seminole Tribe. That was John Horse, Abraham, and I believe John Caesar if I’m correct. But John Horse would emerge as the main leader of the group. And he promised them, he said, if you just will repatriate yourselves to Oklahoma, you will find freedom there. But, of course, he couldn’t keep that promise. So they get to Oklahoma and they placed them next to the Creeks, who the Seminoles had originally broken away from. So they were essentially their enemies at this point. And the group that would go to Mexico were only there for about eight years from 1842 to 1850. It took them all of 1849 to go through Texas. So 700 mile journey. But they realized, okay, we can’t stay in Oklahoma. So they came into Mexico first. And the reason that they left was because they were being threatened with being taken into slavery. And at this point, some of them had been generations removed from chattel slavery. So they you know, they had fought so hard in Florida. Why were they going to allow themselves to be put into slavery in Oklahoma? So that’s why Mexico was so important or getting to Mexico was so important. So they get there and there they served the Mexican government for 20 years from 1850-1870, and then they come into Texas after the Civil War. The U.S. military approached them and said, you know what you’ve been doing in Mexico for Mexico, Can you come and do that for us? So that’s how my family ended up here was, you know, they served in the military at Fort Clark.

Mando Rayo Right here where we’re standing, right?

Windy Goodloe Yeah, yeah.

Mando Rayo That’s amazing. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the foods. Right. What would you say are some of the foods from Black Seminoles that maybe are still alive today.

Corina Torralba Harrington Coming here into Texas and living here in Texas, iIt kind of takes you away from your culture, but so you lose that. So but when you go back to Nacimiento being that it’s a small community. They still do a lot of the fry bread, the sour bread, the sofke. We call it sofke over there and over here it’s sofkey. Tetapún, which is made with sweet potato, and then we still eat a lot of goat. But to me, I wouldn’t call them Black Seminole because it’s, you know,  calabacita con pollo, morcilla

Windy Goodloe They got mixed in with the Mexican…

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes, exactly. Morcilla. Because my grandfather, he was born here in Fort Clark. And because of the connection with Nacimiento, he ended up in Nacimiento. But he married a lady from Ocampo, Coalhuila, which is my grandmother. My grandfathers had already died before I was born and my grandmothers were Mexicans. And so we had more of the Mexico.

Mando Rayo The Mexican influence. Yeah.

Corina Torralba Harrington I did. Yes. And and that’s that’s what I’ve come to realize. And I always think, you know, if we go back to to Florida. We go back searching, wanting to know. Windy and I, we have this bird that we learned of, and that’s what we call ourselves sometimes.

Mando Rayo What’s that?

Windy Goodloe You know, it’s an [indistinguishable] symbol. And Corina is the one who saw it.

Corina Torralba Harrington The sankofa.

Windy Goodloe Where were we at at that gallery, and they had a beautiful write up about it that explained it just perfectly. This idea of going back and fetching. When you learn, make sure you teach. And it felt like that’s what we’re doing, you know?

Corina Torralba Harrington Yeah, because we went to South Carolina together. We went to Florida together and I told Windy, we’re kind of like the Sankofa bird because it has to go back to fetch and learn and bring it back.

Windy Goodloe And we’re going back to these places that we know our ancestors once lived. You know, I think it all made sense for me when we went to South Carolina.

Corina Torralba Harrington But we had an awesome time in South Carolina. Everybody was so, they embraced us, so welcoming. And we learned a lot. We learned a lot there.

Windy Goodloe These are our kinfolk. You know how you go to a place and you just feel like there’s no nervousness, there’s no weird.

Mando Rayo Yeah, I feel comfortable. You’re with your people.

Windy Goodloe Yeah. Immediately embraced and you said that they well, I think you saw it on YouTube, like they sing a song that was sung in Nacimiento.

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes! So in Nacimiento they’re they still sing what they call the spiritual songs. And I saw where they sing one of the songs in South Carolina that that we still sing there.

Mando Rayo What’s the, what’s the song.

Corina Torralba Harrington Out in the field is the song. And it’s, so these women in Nacimiento would sing the songs in English and they don’t know what they’re singing because it it was just something that was passed down, passed down, passed down.

Mando Rayo Orally, yeah.

Windy Goodloe Yeah. They sing phonetically right, they memorize the songs phonetically.

Corina Torralba Harrington So I was just like the connection that, you know, Nacimiento. And that’s why I say, like here in Brackett, people live here, but they live Nacimiento too. But in Nacimiento, like, it’s a community, a small community, and they’re still so close and they still try to, like, preserve. They’ve preserved some of the culture. Yeah, that’s the other thing. You’re not going to be able to understand the words, but we have decipher those songs. We did some work.

Windy Goodloe Because some of it was song in Afro Seminole Creole.

Corina Torralba Harrington And we when we were doing this for Nacimiento, we asked elders and we got the lyrics from a lot of them. So we did some work on that.

Windy Goodloe Because it was translated from Afro Seminole Creole to English to Spanish.

Mando Rayo Yeah, and this the spirit is there, though.

Windy Goodloe Oh, yeah, yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Well, Windy and Corina, thank you so much for spending this very hot and a little bit noisy.

Mando Rayo Understatements.

Mando Rayo Friday evening in Brackettville. I’m excited to join you tomorrow for Juneteenth.

Windy Goodloe We’re excited to have you.

Corina Torralba Harrington Thank you.

Mando Rayo Windy. Tell us what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Windy Goodloe All right. So tomorrow we will begin the day with our annual parade. After that, we’ll have our annual program and then we’ll have our annual barbecue, which starts at at about noon. And that’s the day.

Mando Rayo I’m ready for my barbecue.

Windy Goodloe Yes. Hard at work in the back. The pressure.

Chorus [singing]

Mando Rayo [music plays] Hi, Windy.

Windy Goodloe Hey.

Mando Rayo Caught up with you, huh? I’m excited to join you on the parade.

Windy Goodloe Well, thank you. I appreciate you walking with us. Somebody’s coming up.

Mando Rayo So you have the Black Seminole flag.

Windy Goodloe This is our flag for the association. We’ve had it for years. It was handmade, hand-stitched, from what I understand. And we normally hang it in the museum. We went with the colors of the U.S. military for the Calvary, I believe. That’s where the the blue and the yellow come from.

Mando Rayo The blue and yellow.

Windy Goodloe So this we just pull out for parades and it’s not an official flag, you know? Someone just made it, so.

Mando Rayo No, I mean, that’s official for me.

Windy Goodloe Hi. And I don’t know which came first, the flag or the colors, but the colors are sort of royal blue and gold or blue and yellow.

Mando Rayo Oh, sure. So how do you get everybody to join the parade?

Windy Goodloe Well, we just call everybody. It was a little late notice for this time, but the gentleman in the wagon, he is from Castroville, and he’s been doing our parades for the last, like three or four years. So he calls us and like, Hey, I’m having the parade.

Mando Rayo And he’s in, like, an old timey wagon but it’s motorized.

Windy Goodloe Yeah. And then the Lipan Apache group, they always run the parade with us. Normally they walk.

Mando Rayo Okay. It’s a hot day.

Windy Goodloe It’s so hot. So that means that they’re just going to be in their vehicle but they always come to all of our parades.

Mando Rayo And you do see they have a lot of elders.

Windy Goodloe Yes. I’m really happy that they’re here this morning because they’ve had a long week. They did the library.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Windy Goodloe We had a summer program with the library and that just finished yesterday. So they were doing that.

Mando Rayo It’s nice to see the activity going on. And the remembrance.

Windy Goodloe It’s a mainstay here in Brackett, you know, because our population is so small here, we need to make sure that, like the Hispanic population here knows about us. The white folks know about us.

Mando Rayo Yeah. How many people how many people living in this community?

Windy Goodloe Here we have about 1700 in Brackett. And I think in Kinney County, they’re like 3000.

Mando Rayo Okay.

Windy Goodloe Yeah.

Mando Rayo So everybody knows each other.

Windy Goodloe Oh, yeah. Everybody knows everybody. I mean, I always tell people, as I can tell, family resemblance. Like, I’m like you’re a Telemontes, you’re a Rivas. Like I know the face.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Right.

Windy Goodloe I may not know your name.

Mando Rayo Yeah, yeah. You see the resemblance?

Windy Goodloe Yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Actually, there was a older couple that were riding in the wagon. They didn’t know each other, but it turns out that they have, like, some second cousins relations.

Windy Goodloe Oh, wow. There’s my aunt. Hi Kinley, hey Oakland! Is that Uncle Ackee? So that’s my family from Big Lake and San Angelo.

Mando Rayo Oh, wow. All the way from San Angelo?

Windy Goodloe Yeah.

Mando Rayo There’s some West Texan folks from West Texas here.

Windy Goodloe A lot of my family moved there. So what happened with most of my family is my grandmother had 11 kids, just about all my uncles, except for like one or two, I guess my oldest uncle went to West Texas first to work in that oil field, and every uncle followed him after that. So they all ended up in Big Lake.

Mando Rayo Whew, we made it.

Windy Goodloe Yes. Now we go and start the program. [sound of horse hooves on pavement]

Mando Rayo We met up with Windy over at Brackettville High School, and from there we had a small assembly for the parade, which included an old timey car with a motor. I walked along the parade route with Windy holding the banner, and everybody was in their car. Because you know what? It’s a hot day in Texas. As we were escorted and walked through the parade route. We met locals from towns, people that Windy knows, her family members, but as well as people that come in from San Antonio all the way from West Texas. So it was nice to see how even though it’s a small community, a small celebration, but everyone always shows up to honor the celebration of Juneteenth. [music break] After the parade, we all try to cool down and the old George Washington Carver School and everyone was ready to get the program started.

Jerry Fay My name is Jerry, I’m the President of the Cemetery Association and because I’m president, I got opened up. So. So first, we want to start off with a blood prayer. So, Heavenly Father, we just thank you for the day. Thank you for the traveling mercies for the people that come from all over the country to be here to celebrate with us. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Windy Goodloe All right. So next, we’re going to sing Lift Every Voice and Sing. It was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson. James Weldon Johnson wrote the words to introduce its honored guest, Booker T Washington. And in 1919, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People, also known as the NAACP, dubbed it the Negro National Anthem for its power in voicing the cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people

Chorus [group sings “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson and fades into a piano instrumental version of the song]

Windy Goodloe So Juneteenth, which is also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, as it’s written on our banner back here, is a holiday that commemorates the June 19th, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and more generally, the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19th, and here in Brackett, we celebrate it wherever it’s closest to the 19th. However, in El Nacimiento, in Mexico, they celebrate on the day. So I think that’s important to mention. So celebrate it on June 19th. Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 45 states. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is in the little program that was handed out singing traditional songs such as Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and Lift Every Voice and Sing, which we all just sing through, which I appreciate all of you sing you because it is a difficult song to sing, but with time, I think we’ll get better at it and really lift our voices. And readings by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations may include parades, rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, which is what I consider this to be a big family reunion, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests. And my cousin Sue back here reminding me that in 1980 she was Miss Juneteenth. So we used to have– [crowd applauds] So President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22nd, 1862, with an effective date of January 1st, 1863. It declared that all enslaved people would be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in union hands. Isolated geographically, Texas was not a battleground, and thus its enslaved Africans were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped. And as you know, many escaped over into Mexico. Planters and other slave holders had migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting, and many brought their enslaved people with them. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved Africans in Texas. As news of the end of the war moved slow, it did not reach Texas until May, and the army of the trans Mississippi did not surrender until June 2nd. On June 18th, Union General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. On June 19th, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of General Order number three, announcing to all of those enslaved that they were now emancipated. Former enslaved Africans in Galveston rejoiced in the streets after the announcement, although in years afterward, many struggled to work through the changes that were brought about by the end of slavery. But the following year, the newly minted freedmen organized the first of what would become annual celebrations of Juneteenth in Texas. Barred in some cities from using public parks because of state sponsored segregation. Across Texas, these newly freed people pulled their funds together to purchase land to hold their own Emancipation Day, Juneteenth or June 19th celebrations. One such example was at Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park and Emancipation Park in Austin, Texas. Another important aspect of Juneteenth is the food which I’ll be partaking in hopefully later on today. Here we celebrate with a barbecue. So, you know, everybody knows us for our brisket, for our sausage, for our chicken, potato salad, rice and beans. But in other places, Juneteenth is celebrated through red foods, so it’s not uncommon to have hotlink red sausages. People eat red velvet cake, which is my personal favorite. We drink red soda like big red hibiscus tea. Have you ever had a hibiscus tea? That beautiful red color? So a lot of people eat those foods in honor of Juneteenth.

Chorus For you ordered out? No. Me. My name is very pretty, Ward Kelly. I married into the Kennedy family with Charles top class right in this very classroom here. And I was one that worked very closely with Charles to keep this association going. When we lost her, he was a big loss to us, and it was left for the younger generation to keep it going. And I thank God that we are on the same track of keep on doing what she would love for us to do. Y’all come back. It’s our seminal function. Seminole Baseball is a big event and our campaign is building back up with it’s building back up to be something good to come to and that. But I can say everybody is still trying to keep it going.

Windy Goodloe I just want to thank everybody for coming out. You know, the only way that we keep this going is by showing up. The last thing that I wanted to mention is in the little booklet, there is a recipe for strawberry slab pie. So if anybody decides to make it, please send so my way so I can try it. [music]

Mando Rayo What a way to honor Juneteenth. But of course, we need to hear from people that came to Brackettville and share in remembrance and community. Let’s listen to what they had to say.

Vanessa Devoe Hi, my name is Vanessa Devoe. I’m from San Angelo, Texas. I’m here in Bracken Ville, Texas. I am a descendant of the Vasquez, the Factors and the Kelly family. I enjoy coming here. I’ve been coming here since I was about seven or eight years old. It was a very huge festive event. A lot of people, as the elders got older and died off. You know, the events got a little bit smaller. So this is my first time coming back since COVID. And it’s just so nice just to see everyone getting together and embracing one another and just learning about their family and and just sharing stories.

Mando Rayo Why is Juneteenth important for you?

Vanessa Devoe It was something that was taught to me as a child. My parents would come to Brackettville every year. We would embrace and have fun and those things. But as I got older, I really appreciated coming here and celebrating Juneteenth because our family was free. You know, it was a it was a party was a celebration of freedom. My interest and my intrigue in the exploration of the Black Mexican started since I was a child. And now, with all the tools available, the Internet, research, ancestry and airlines, I can travel anywhere and learn more about that firsthand. And that’s what I’m about to do in the coming weeks.

Mando Rayo Where are you going to go?

Vanessa Devoe I’ll be traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico. They have one of the largest Black Mexican populations in that area, as well as Guerrero. And I’m just going to immerse myself in the culture. I’m going to learn about the culture, the food, maybe take some Spanish lessons and then really delve into and probably take some private tours to the different areas and the pueblos where the Black Mexicans are.

Mando Rayo And you’re also going to Nacimiento, correct?

Vanessa Devoe Yes, I’ll be going to Nacimiento. We leave for Muskies tomorrow and we will go to Nacimiento to celebrate Juneteenth. And from what I hear from my cousins who go every year, they say it’s a big celebration. And so I’m just very looking forward to doing that.

Mando Rayo Well, me too, because I’ll be. I’ll be following along.

Vanessa Devoe Fantastic.

Mando Rayo Right along with you.

Vanessa Devoe Fantastic. Well, good. Well, maybe we’ll get to kick the dirt together out here. You better make sure I bring my boots, because they say it is going to be dust, dusty and dirty.

Mando Rayo I love it. I love it.

Isabel Torralba Me llamo Isabel Torralba. Soy nativa del Nacimiento primero, pero vivo en San Antonio, Texas. Soy miembro del SISCA aquí en Brackett y estoy muy feliz de estar aquí porque es la primer vez que vengo a celebrar el 19 de junio aquí. La mayoría del tiempo iba para el nacimiento. Siempre, siempre, siempre. Lo que me impresiona que aquí lo celebran un fin de semana antes que caiga el 19 allá, que si cae en lunes en lunes celebramos el 19. Es tradición y como dije, pues me encanta esta asociación. Yo venía antes, ayudaba a limpiar el cementerio. Mi bisabuela era un miembro de aquí y ya cocinaba y. Pero mi abuela se llamaba Alicia Fair Lozano y ella trabajaba en los campos como en las pistas, como de Georgia, Florida y eso. Y no más. Viajaba para el nacimiento, en Navidad y para celebrar esta ocasión de la libertad que era muy importante para todos nosotros. También mi bisabuela escribió dos libros y estoy muy orgullosa de ella porque sin con la información que ella puso ahí en los libros, nos ayuda a aprender más de nuestra historia.

Mando Rayo Y cuando comenzaste a aprender de la celebración de aquí de Nacimiento.

Isabel Torralba Desde que estaba chica porque siempre se celebró en el nacimiento, desde que yo nací, yo tenía uso de razón, se juntaba la gente, iba mucha gente, donaban cosas. Las personas como el gobierno. El presidente de Muskiz donaba cosas para ese día especial podían donar como sodas para toda la comunidad, paletas de nieve, cosas asina, porque la gente se juntaba y iba y pedía para que los ayudaran a tener una celebración bonita.

Mando Rayo Y por qué es importante para para ti, para celebrar juntes o como le dicen en México?

Isabel Torralba Le dijimos Juneteenth es importante porque mis antepasados vinieron de allí. O sea, era nuestra libertad de nosotros. Aunque dicen que los los Seminole se liberaron solos cuando viajaron de Texas para México, después que ellos viajaron y se liberaron solos. Después se hizo la lucha, se levantó la emancipación, que ya no iban a ser esclavos. Pero como quiera celebramos junto con ellos porque vienen del mismo, de la misma raíz y es importante para mí y soy orgullosa de donde vengo y represento, donde vengo. Y siempre digo que como decirte a no me avergüenza ser de donde soy.

Mando Rayo For some people this might be new, right? It’s not new for you. Right? So what would you say to somebody that is just learning about Nacimiento?

Isabel Torralba What would I tell them? I would tell them that we have a big history because we do. A lot of people don’t know it. I’m barely learning about my history, too, about my ancestors and everything. Through my grandmas, through my great grandma’s books. So I would tell them that is a celebration that we’re trying to celebrate, that we were free from slavery. And even though it’s always going to be racist everywhere. We still celebrating because we not, they not slaves no more, you know, that’s what I would tell them.

Mando Rayo Tell me a little bit about maybe some of the food traditions that you learned from growing up, from growing up.

Isabel Torralba Yes. I know that in December they cooked this kind of bread that is called tetapún is a made up camote. They also make sofkee, that is made of corn. Cabrito, calabacita, venado, puerco,  o sea beans, rice. All those foods we grew up eating on them. Even snake. One day. One day. My great grandma, she was eating a piece of I thought it was chicken. And she said, You want some? And I said, Yes. She cut a piece. She gave it to me. I finish it. And she goes, Do you want some more? And I said, Yeah. It was chicken, right? She started laughing. Well, she said, You want to know what it is? And I said, Yeah. And then she she points to the line and it was a snake dry hanging and I was like, what? My mom was like, I don’t need anything Granny gives me. Don’t do that. And I didn’t know.

Mando Rayo You know, she comes from the land. Right, right?

Isabel Torralba We used to go piscar chile piquin up in the mountains, piscar chile piquin, medicine plants. Nopalitos. And we will make the jar special like uno juntaba puro chile piquin rojo en otro juntaba puro verde, en otro juntaba uno mixto. No sé si conoces el chile piquín.

Mando Rayo Piquín?

Isabel Torralba Sí, sí, sí, chiquitito. Mucho se da mucho allá este y en ella vivía en el rancho Guadalupe, que está como unos 20 minutos del nacimiento y yo subía con ella pa arriba. O sea, tengo muchas memorias en mi mente de ella, pero yo creo que hasta ahorita son las mejores que he tenido en mi vida.

Mando Rayo Muchas gracias.

Isabel Torralba De nada.

Mando Rayo Thank you very much for sharing a little bit of about your story.

Isabel Torralba Yes. Yes, Yes.

Jerry Fay My name is Jerry Fay. I’m from Darrow, Texas. Born and raised in Darrow, Texas. And we’re here in Brackettville celebrating on Juneteenth once again. And we’d like for you all to come over and visit us someday. I’m president of the Seminole Association here. Seminole Cemetery Association, which we take care of the graveyard and the Carver School Grounds nonprofit. Our main thing is to maintain the graveyard, keep it cut, and respect our elders.

Mando Rayo Well, tell me a little bit about your family’s history.

Jerry Fay Well, my father was born in Mexico. My mother’s born in Marathon, Texas. They moved to Mexico when she was about 11, and that’s where they met, my father and mother met. And my father was a rancher. He still owned like 92 horses used to raise them and break them for the big ranches there in Mexico. And so during the big ’54 drought and the ’50s drought, all these horses died. All 92 horses died. So that’s when he came over here to get a job and everything. And that’s how we ended up over here. And my first three siblings were born in Mexico, but after that, all the rest of us were born here. You know, five more, I think, were born here.

Mando Rayo And we’re here to celebrate Juneteenth. Yeah. Why is that important for you?

Jerry Fay It’s important to celebrate where you came from. And that Juneteenth is important thing for Black Americans, especially in Texas, because, you know, that’s when we heard about that’s when it was implemented and our freedom was implemented. And that is something we should never forget. Because because the past and the past, of course, we weren’t free. And and that’s just something we should never forget. Our history, that’s all, you know. And we should always pass our history on to our younger generation because if they forget, they all fall into the same stuff. Or it’s just not good to forget your history because they don’t know where you came from. You miss, you lose who you are if you don’t know your history.

Mando Rayo Now let’s dig in to how Windy and Corina are preserving the history and roots of Black Mexicans through the establishment of the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Museum.

Windy Goodloe The museum, which is the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Museum, was founded on April 25th of 2015. And when we put out the call, you know, that we wanted to actually do this and we were going to be studying this. We received everything for free. So there was basically hardly any money spent on the creation of the museum. We already, you know, we were given frames, we were given pictures, and people would just drop by stuff. We would come. It would be just a box of frames.

Mando Rayo Yeah. And I see it all set up with kind of different sections.

Windy Goodloe It’s very like, yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah. I mean, I mean, what I’m seeing is just family photos.

Windy Goodloe Yes. And, you know, while our story is for everybody, I think it’s important that we have a voice in the telling of our story as well. So we wanted the museum to reflect that, that we have the ability to tell our own story. I think for a while we didn’t think we could, but now I think we feel empowered to. So the museum has allowed us to do that. So the first it’s broken into seven different panels. The first panel, you know, tells the story of who the Black Seminoles are. And the way that this panel came to be was we were kind of trying to figure out how do we start the story. And it was kids who came in and were like, well, what is a Black Seminole? So we were like, okay, they were older than five. Yeah, but they were elementary school students. And we said, okay, this is how we start our story. Who are we? We have to answer that question first before we tell any other part of our story. So the second panel is about our military history. I think that’s how most people come to our story, because the Black Seminoles who are known as the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts, that’s how they were that’s their official government name. They were known for their bravery and their valor. Four of those men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. And that’s why we have this organization, because they’re buried in the cemetery known as the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery. So people find out about them and go visit their graves. So a lot of people learn about them through that. So we definitely honor the military history. But our history, unfortunately, most of the time ends in 1914. So we wanted to continue that. So this is where the family pictures come in. This is my favorite part. Yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Windy Goodloe Well, and these were the pictures that we were given by people. Most of these pictures, you know, we photocopied off the Internet, bills like that. But these pictures over here were what people sent in and gave us because it tells family stories. Yeah.

Mando Rayo I mean, you could see it. You see, you know, father figures, you see families, you see young, you know, them doing different things together.

Windy Goodloe And I think it was important to let people know that our lives continued on after 1914, even though the military service had ended abruptly or unceremoniously, as have most historians say. You know, people continue to live and have families. So after that, the next two panels honor Miss Charles, who was the founder of our organization. She was a was an educator. So she taught probably about two generations of Black Seminoles. And then after she retired, she ramped up her involvement in the preservation of our history. So we honor her because if it weren’t for her we wouldn’t be here. And then education, which was so important to her, she stressed that for everybody. So, you know, and we’re in the old school house. So these photos are of the old schoolhouse. And then this final panel here is about Juneteenth and Seminole Day celebrations. And these are two big celebrations each year. So these are just a few of the photos from various celebrations.

Mando Rayo I see some devices that could be seen as cooking devices.

Windy Goodloe Yes.

Mando Rayo Tell me about what this structure is.

Windy Goodloe So this is called a morterol or a mortar and pestle in English. And the way it ties in is the final exhibit here in the museum are these doors, these old rugged doors that we had just laying outside. We didn’t want to throw them away. And so you met Mr. Jealous, right? Yeah. Jealous Factor. So he came in and fixed them so we could stand them up. Yeah. And we had at the time she was a Ph.D. candidate, but now she’s Dr. Rocia Gill. She had gone to Nacimiento for Juneteenth and brought back these beautiful photos that she and a friend took. And so this was our way to honor Nacimiento. And one of the photos is of Miss Zulema making sofkee, which is like a corn meal gruel or grits. And so we had this material donated to us by Frank Garcia, who’s a descendant. And to me, this one is more stylized. I would say.

Mando Rayo Sure.

Windy Goodloe Than what Zulema is holding in the photo, which is just a straight pole? This one is a little easier on your hands. It’s really cool to have this and the photo evidence of how it’s used, and it’s still a very practical, everyday tool that they use in their in their everyday cooking. So, yeah, we’re really happy to have this here.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Windy Goodloe Did you get to try it?

Mando Rayo No, I’m trying it right [wood hitting the bowl]. This will be ready in 10 hours.

Windy Goodloe Yeah.  Okay, so this is basically a hollowed out tree stump. And this is also part of the tread. And if it’s part of the same tree, but it looks like it. So it’s all wood and it’s been sanded. And when Frank gave it to us, he said that he had actually sanded it down. And I hope I’m not misquoting him, but he had actually sanded it down to make it look nicer. But the way it had looked back before, it had like more patina looked more rugged before. But he’s he’s sanded it down to make it look nice for us. Yeah.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Yeah. And then you have a display here of Nacimiento.

Windy Goodloe Yes. This was from their 2015 Juneteenth celebration. Oh gosh, that’s almost ten years ago. You know, there’s something that they do every year that always stays the same. So you have the calbagada, or the horse parade, the trail riders. They do have a Miss Juneteenth. We need to bring that back. Hopefully y’all will get to take a photo in front of the sign. That’s the marker. You know that you’re in Nacimiento. Tribun Negros Mascogos. So please take a photo there.

Mando Rayo Yes, we will.

Windy Goodloe And then you’ll see, you know, the women cooking. So the women will make the sides and the men will be doing the meat, you know, the day before. So you get to see all that preparation. I think if we come around, you’ll see more photos here. I love this photo, too. I hadn’t thought about that one. Isn’t that beautiful?

Mando Rayo Yeah, it is.

Windy Goodloe Yeah. So she’s resting.

Mando Rayo She’s resting on her trunk.

Windy Goodloe So after we saw Zulema pounding the corn in the mortero, here’s someone and she is sort of shaking out the, the corn husk, the corn to make sure all the bad parts are out and everything. So this is the first process and now it’s being boiled. So that’s just another part of the process. And then here are the ladies preparing and then the next day serving.

Mando Rayo It feels it sounds like it’s it’s an all day, maybe four for celebration. Not a thing you do every day.

Windy Goodloe No, it’s not. So you want to.

Mando Rayo You can’t put it in an instant pot.

Windy Goodloe No, no. It’s an all-day, all hands on deck.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Well, thank you so much for kind of just treating us to a little bit about the Black Seminole history and sharing in your community and what you’re doing here in Brackettville. And at the end of the day now, you know, everybody came to the parade.

Windy Goodloe You walked the parade with us.

Mando Rayo I did. I did.

Windy Goodloe You put in miles. Yes.

Mando Rayo Well, tell us how you feel about how everything went, any kind of reflection that you’d like to do.

Windy Goodloe Yeah. Gosh, my immediate reflection. I might have something different to say tomorrow, but right now I just am happy about the day I feel it was successful. I think everything that we planned went off and got done according to plan so well. Juneteenth is important to me cause, you know, I don’t want to see this legacy die. And so as long as I’m living, I feel like it’s my duty because of what Ms. charles instilled in me, what she’s done for decades. And, you know, I don’t want to be the person that lets it fall on my watch or not succeed on my watch. So there is this. I always feel like I hear Miss Charles in the back of my head, like I didn’t work all this time for this to just fail, you know, with outside of like an Armageddon or a World War three. This history is is the older I get, the more important it becomes. I just lost my mom, so, you know. And that connection. As it’s intangible now she’s not here. Yeah. So being around family, I think that just it’s crystallized even more. Like, I look at my and I see that she looks like my mom. I have uncles. They see my family all smiles the same. And I realize that, like, this weekend, like, gosh, we do have these traits. And so Juneteenth is is has always been for me, it’s like Christmas. It’s like family reunion all wrapped into one. And the fact that people drop what they’re doing, come down to this hot, hot place. It’s just amazing to me. It’s always amazing. You know, it’s really important that people, you know, come and celebrate with us. Yeah. And I think Juneteenth, I fundamentally understand what it means. You know, it was the day that people here in Texas who were enslaved found out that they had been emancipated. But it’s come to mean family as well. It’s just family coming together. We don’t get many opportunities because we’re all so spread out. So coming together is really important.

Mando Rayo Yeah. Well, it’s beautiful. Beautiful to see, beautiful to witness and to talk to. To you and the elders and people from from here, from Bracketville to San Antonio to Marathon to Lubbock. You know, like to do this track.

Windy Goodloe  People came from everywhere. Yeah.

Mando Rayo That’s beautiful.

Windy Goodloe Yeah.

Mando Rayo Thank you so much Windy.

Windy Goodloe Thank you.

Mando Rayo Now, let’s talk with Carina about her experience with Juneteenth in Mexico and some of their food traditions.

Corina Torralba Harrington So I, um. I lived in Nacimiento just til I was about seven years old. I’ve gone down to Nacimiento a lot, often.

Mando Rayo Because of family.

Corina Torralba Harrington Yeah, my father still lives there. And also, you know, I opened up La Casa de La Cultura and audiovisual celebrations there, I’ve been going as long as I can remember. I’ve talked to people there before, but nobody really knows. You know, when the Juneteenth celebration started.

Mando Rayo It’s something that people did.

Corina Torralba Harrington Yeah, right. And they don’t know. They can’t come up with a date or.

Mando Rayo Did they call it Juneteenth?

Corina Torralba Harrington No.

Mando Rayo What do they call it?

Corina Torralba Harrington El día del negro. El baile de los negros el 19.

Mando Rayo Well, let’s talk about some of the the foods that you grew up with, maybe some of those foods that are still rooted in that Black Seminole culture.

Corina Torralba Harrington The only food that I can remember now is the sofkee. When I have the opportunity to have it, you’re putting something in your mouth that takes you back to your childhood because we ate it. You know,  I guess we ate it a lot. Another food that we ate a lot was pinole. Pinole is a real fine corn. Like, atole.

Mando Rayo Like an oatmeal, right? A porridge. A porridge?

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes. Like an oatmeal and fry bread. You know, we grew up with that a lot.

Mando Rayo Yeah. For somebody that doesn’t know what sofkee is, can you kind of describe what it is to me?

Corina Torralba Harrington A sofkee is a dry corn, and they use the mortero to crush it, and they make, like, a porridge or atole out of it. The thing about that sofkee there in Nacimiento is so a lot of the women still cook outside over a fire, and they add a little bit of the cenizas to it, the ashes that they’re cooking with into it, maybe to thicken it up a little bit. I’m not. But that’s what gives it a different taste.

Mando Rayo Different taste. Right.

Corina Torralba Harrington Another thing that I have had there that is very good, it’s a three day process is called sour bread and it is fried and it is made crushed in a mortero and they leave it out in water for like a whole night. And I think that gives it the sourness of it. And then they make they fry it and it’s like a sour dough. It’s really good, too.

Mando Rayo It sounds delicious.

Corina Torralba Harrington And they usually make that in the winter, like, for cold days.

Mando Rayo Yeah, for cold days. And then the mortero…

Corina Torralba Harrington The mortero is also used in Africa for rice as well. But it’s a tool that they use to crush mainly, you know, corn for Nacimiento.

Mando Rayo Yeah. From what I can see, it’s like this hollowed out tree trunk with a palo, with a very thick stick, if you will. Right. And then you use it to crush it down. Has a rounded at the top, rounded at the bottom. And then you just like… Right. That’s great. Well, you know, we spent a whole day with you here in Brackettville. Was this your first time here for for this celebration?

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes.

Mando Rayo What are your thoughts?

Corina Torralba Harrington So it is a little bit more formal here, but I liked that part of it. You know, I think it should be that way. And then we can party later.

Mando Rayo Anything else you’d like to say?

Corina Torralba Harrington Yes. I want to thank you. I want to thank you for the opportunity, you know, for making me talk.

Mando Rayo Now, I just want to thank you, Corina, and I’m excited to join you in Nacimiento. Well, it’s been an honor to participate in the Juneteenth celebration here in Brackettville, Texas. I mean, it was hot. I’m not going to lie. But, man, I learned a lot. We came together in community with some very delicious homemade barbecue. As you should it being in Texas. And  it was just great to connect with people that are really in tune with their cultural roots on being Black Seminoles and how their stories are still… They’re still keeping their stories alive through coming together through this shared experience, but also this idea that even though there’s a border that doesn’t stop people from digging in to some of that history and their roots. So after hours of being in community, sweating a lot, I am ready to dive into the natural spring right here down the street and watch me cannonball my way in to some much needed rest and getting ready for the next leg of the trip. I’m going to Nacimiento in Coahuila, Mexico. See you there. This has been part one of Black Mexicans. Special thanks to our guest, Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, as well as Isabela Torralba, Vanessa Devoe and Cheri Fay and the rest of the Brackettville community. Stay tuned for part two of Black Mexicans, where we learn how Juneteenth is celebrated in Mexico. This has been the Tacos of Texas podcast, developed and produced by Identity Productions. If you enjoyed today’s episode and are craving more taco content, go to our website at w-w-w dot identity dot productions or follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube at Identity Productions and United Tacos of America. This is your host, Mando El Mestizo Rayo. Vamos a los Tacos.

Outro The Tacos of Texas podcast is presented by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. Our host and producer is Mando Rayo. Our audio is mixed by Nicholas Worthen and Ever Calderon. Our story producer is me, Sharon Arteaga, and our creative producer is Dennis Burnett. Music was created by Peligrosa in Austin, Texas, and King Benny Productions, located in the Quinto barrio of Houston.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


Episodes

December 19, 2023

Bonus Episode: The intersectionalities of Black Mexicans with Chef Adrian Lipscombe. 

Chef Adrian Lipscombe grew up in San Antonio and we’ll discuss Texas foodways from her Black heritage to growing up in the gateway to South Texas, San Antonio. Chef Lipscombe is the founder of the 40 Acres Project, a city planner and Culinary Diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.

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December 12, 2023

Bonus Episode: Regional Taco Flavors of Texas

From border to border, El Paso to Brownsville and a little in between, we’re gonna talk tacos regionales and just like the musica itself, there’s many elements and things that go into them. Our guests include Miguel Cobos from Vaquero Taquero and Paola Gabriela from Visit El Paso.

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November 7, 2023

Taco Pop Culture: A Taco Talk on All Things Tacos on the Interwebs

Stephanie Guerra, of Puro Pinche, hangs with us in the studio to talk taco pop culture.

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October 31, 2023

Black Mexicans, Part 2: Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans in Texas and Mexico

There is so much untold and uncovered history of the African diaspora, especially that within the lineages of slavery. Food can signal a variety of possibilities within history, and in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington, […]

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October 24, 2023

Black Mexicans, Part 1: Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles and Mexicans in Texas and Mexico

There is so much untold and uncovered history of the African diaspora, especially that within the lineages of slavery. Food can signal a variety of possibilities within history, and in this episode, we examine the melding and the migration of Black Seminoles across Texas and into Mexico. We join Windy Goodloe and Corina Torralba Harrington, […]

Listen

October 17, 2023

Archiving Our Food History: What Goes Into Researching and Saving Oral Recipes and Histories.

In this episode, we talk to Dr. Meredith E. Abarca about putting together her online archive El Paso Food Voices. Author and blogger Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack shares how she has used her cookbooks as a way to archive her family’s recipes.

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October 10, 2023

Inside Houston’s Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Food

The complex cuisine of Texas goes back before the land was known as either Texas or Mexico. In this episode, we visit Houston’s two-day, anthropologic culinary event Encuentro. We learn about the Native American roots of Texas Mexican food from both scholars and chefs present at the event.

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October 3, 2023

Salsa Magic

This episode includes a breakdown of the salsas that complete our favorite tacos, from taqueria style, to hot sauces. It includes the science of peppers to a local hot sauce brand’s origins. Then we’ll go into my home kitchen to make one of my favorite salsas and how to pair them up with your favorite tacos.

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