Americo Paredes (1915-1999) was a folklorist, scholar, and professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is widely acknowledged as one of the founding scholars of Chicano Studies. Born in Brownsville, Texas, along the southern U.S.-Mexico Border, Paredes grew up between two worlds - one written about in books, the other sung about in ballads and narrated in folktales. After service in World War-II, Paredes entered the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed his PhD in 1956. With the publication of his dissertation, ""With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero"" in 1958, Paredes soon emerged as a challenger to the status quo. His book questioned the mythic nature of the Texas Rangers and provided an alternative counter-cultural narrative to the existing traditional narratives of Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank Dobie. For the next forty years Paredes was a brilliant teacher and prolific writer who championed the preservation of border culture and history. He was a soft-spoken, at times temperamental, yet fearless professor. In 1970 he co-founded the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is credited with introducing the concept of Greater Mexico, decades before its wider acceptance today among transnationalist scholars. He received numerous awards, including La Orden del Aguila Azteca, Mexico's most prestigious service award to a foreigner. Manuel F. Medrano interviewed Paredes over a five-year period before Paredes' death in 1999, and also interviewed his family and colleagues. For many Mexican Americans, Paredes' historical legacy is that he raised, carried, and defended their cultural flag with a dignity that both friends and foes respected.
MANUEL F. MEDRANO is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Brownsville and the coauthor of Medieval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands and Charro Days in Brownsville. He has written three bilingual poetry books and has produced and directed Los del Valle, an oral history of Rio Grande Valley people.