Transitions of a Tejana

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    Eva Sandoval Bonilla, an educator and community activist, shared her personal story of the transitions she has experienced as a Tejana on Tuesday.

    The event was held by the TCU Women’s Studies Program along with the Department of Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services, in celebration of Women’s History Month.

    As Bonilla recounted the story of her life, she highlighted major transitions that have marked and shaped her along the way.

    Bonilla is a Tejana (a native Texan) who grew up in the Linwood Neighborhood of Fort Worth, which today is located next to what is now Montgomery Plaza.She shared how her father’s heavy involvement with the community influenced her to become just as involved with political activism.

    “In my early teens, my father, Jesse Domingo Sandoval, introduced me to the political world and the plight against discriminatory practices towards Mexican-Americans,” Bonilla said.

    Her father, who was a World War II Veteran, was the second president of the GI Forum in Fort Worth and was also involved with the Viva Kennedy Clubs of the 1960s. He later joined a third activist organization the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organization (PASSO).

    Bonilla said this marked the beginning of her political activism within the Mexican-American community.

    As she share shared her story, she recalled the time when there was a $3.50 poll tax required to vote and she participated in drives that encouraged people to vote.

    “Even as a teenager, I knew it was wrong to force people to pay in order to exercise the right to vote,” she said.

    Ever since, Bonilla said she continues to make history by being civic minded.

    Katherine Wright, senior religion major, heard about the event through the Women’s Studies Program and said she found Bonilla’s story relatable to her women’s studies minor.

    “Activism is so important within women’s studies and she is a good case to understand in a local scale,” she said.

    Theresa Gaul, director of the Women’s Studies program, said Bonilla was recommended by Carol Thompson, an associate professor from the anthropology and sociology department.

    “I loved how she combined her personal story and experiences with the political movements she was a part of, which show how these things interconnect in our lives,” Gaul said. “I noticed she couldn’t tell her own story without telling the story of the movements.”

    Bonilla encouraged students to become involved in their community.

    “As I continue to rally for social justice, just as my father taught me, I believe that the vote is the most powerful weapon—use it,” she said.