Local activist rewarded for work in community

SAN BENITO — She’s worn many hats, but her biggest hat is helping others.

That’s why Professor Enriqueta Ramos is being inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame tonight at the State Farm Hidalgo Arena.

“I’m surprised because I think there are so many people who could have the honor, but I am very happy,” said Ramos, 86, who has been active in her community for many years.

She believes she’s been recognized because of her work at the San Benito Public Library. She and other volunteers spend a great deal of time there teaching classes in citizenship, GED, Spanish, English and numerous other subjects. And she does it all for free.

“We now have two people that are ready for their appointment for citizenship and we have five that are almost ready, so the citizenship is making a big difference,” she said with excitement. “A lot of people that normally wouldn’t go to our library are coming because of the classes we have.”

The induction is part of Hidalgo’s annual “BorderFest” activities, states a letter from the city.

“The walk celebrates life, achievement and the significant contributions of outstanding men and women in all walks of life to communities in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas,” states the letter. “The Walk is a local landmark that bears the names of many distinguished persons.”

Ramos spoke at length about the work she and others are doing at the library.

“The San Benito Public Library is now the educational and cultural center in San Benito,” she said. “We first started by our finding a home to the Writers’ Forum every first Tuesday of the month. We now have evening classes Monday through Thursday.”

Ramos said the many activities taking place at the library convey a sense of community.

“We do it to be a participant in what’s going on in our city so we can have more interactions in all different aspects of our community,” she said. “We are involved with everything that’s going on. To me that’s what this thing is all about.”

She recalled that before the city had a Chamber of Commerce, she was part of a group that formed a sort of “welcome wagon” to new businesses.

“There were about 10 people,” she said. “We used to go and welcome the new businesses that were opening. We would give them a little basket with food or cookies or other stuff.”

The summer months are even busier with children’s classes in dancing, storytelling and other subjects.

The Enriqueta Ramos file

• Earned her teaching credential from the University of California at Irvine.

• Taught Spanish, English, social studies and reading at Fountain Valley High School.

• Became angered by a newspaper article in Orange County Register saying there were no Mexican-Americans in Orange County. Went to chancellor of the University of California at Irvine. This resulted in the creation of an advisory committee for minority affairs.

• Worked for more equality for Mexican-American students in public schools. Worked with Civil Rights Activist Cesar Chavez.

• Eventually earned a doctorate in comparative cultures. Taught Spanish at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Activities at the San Benito Public Library

Hosts the Writer’s Forum every first Tuesday of the Month

Holds the annual City of San Benito Citizens Academy.

Citizenship classes

English classes

Spanish classes

Math classes

Dia de Reyes each Jan. 6

Farm Workers Month each March

Summer activities

Children’s activities such as dancing and storytelling.