The Observer phones came awoke with the reporting of San Antonio’s Battle of the Flowers Parade - Fiesta Parade that was broadcast live on the internet. The Battle of the Flowers Parade honors the heroic spirit of the patriots of the Alamo, commemorates the victory of San Jacinto and celebrates the diversity and heritage of Texas and our nation. This year there was an element of bold racism, that was condoned at many levels and high levels of leadership. The Fiesta Commission has a major blind spot - and that is no African Americans are on their board and there are no checks and balances that go into the many floats that the public witnesses. This year's problem insulted the African-American community of the city. We believe the City of San Antonio and City Council need to launch an investigation into this story, as we are curious what message are we sending about Black people who live in the seventh largest US city.
So what happened? On April 27, 2017, the second largest day parade in the U.S., the Battle of Flowers Parade, had a float from the Texas Cavaliers King Antonio. The float had what appeared to be two men in Blackface as they had Black mask covering their entire face. The SA Observer questioned who were the men, and was provided the information that the men were actually Black and hired by the Texas Cavaliers. The follow-on question, we asked was "why did you order Black men, to be depicted as slaves?" Apparently, the Black men did not want to be recognized as being slaves - and perhaps needed to retain their jobs at the horse carrier company. We have not spoken to them to confirm our perception as we spoke to many others who were deeply offended watching it on the sidelines of the streets of our city.
The Battle of Flowers Parade holds the distinction of being the first celebration to be held in Alamo Plaza and is considered the founding event of Fiesta San Antonio. Each year, thousands of local citizens and tourist visit the Alamo City to be entertained and to have a great time.
We received calls and had some negative reports of the Battle of the Flowers Parade and particularly, the Texas Cavalier King Antonio float. One of our readers wrote us and said, “I have never been to Fiesta or seen the parade. I watched it online and was horrified. What is going on when two black men in slave clothing with the horses of King Antonio? Do they realize how that comes across?”
We polled a sample of our readers to this story, to judge if we are over reacting. No one said the float was appropriate. Most gave us the curse words to explain how they feel. Even as we publish this story, our families have their jaws dropped with the level of insensitivity the Texas Cavaliers and the Fiesta San Antonio Commission have exhibited towards Black people in San Antonio and to our world stage.
It is a striking image of an old plantation (like the San Antonio Country Club and the Argyle Club) - with the royalty being supported by the Black slave. This sends a direct message in 2018 that Black people are inferior to Whites.
Now who are the Texas Cavaliers? The organization, which was founded in 1926, has more than 500 members. The diversity of the organization also does not include many or maybe not any Blacks after reviewing their website. Their board doesn’t reflect any racial diversity, which is probably why they made this grave mistake. Likewise, Fiesta Commission is also absent of Black representation. Amy Shaw is the Executive Director and is ultimately responsible since the Battle of the Flowers Parade is considered the founding event of Fiesta.
King Antonio XCV is Dr. Michael A. Casillas and he was shown being pulled by the horses with the two Black slaves. During his reign, he and his Aides will visit military bases, hospitals, and nursing homes, as well as many schools. As they visit these places, especially Military City USA, we are wondering if the Slaves are going to accompany the King?
The question of the Texas Cavaliers usage of Blacks is very questionable and many would say is racist. Should this organization have the right to portray Black people as slaves without an educational context???
Our bottom line is if a Black person isn’t willing to play the role, it is more than likely disrespectful. What gives the Texas Cavaliers or the Fiesta Commission the right to portray Black people in slave roles? At the end of the day, this is how they view Blacks and again another local example they don’t really care about Black people or families. There is harmful effects of this negative portrayal to people from around the world. How will these leaders collectively apologize to Black people in San Antonio?
We called Amy Shaw, the Executive Director of The Fiesta San Antonio Commission, who is researching what occurred, and why there appears to be an overall bias towards African Americans.
We do need to provide a disclaimer, our newspaper contacted The Fiesta San Antonio Commission prior to this incident, to see if they would advertise their events to our 120,000+ population on the East Side. They said “No”. As the editor, I asked if it was “important for Black people to be involved and included” – and silence. We know big events often do not include Black media in the budgets as they view us as being unimportant. We have a problem - a deep problem that continues to treat Black people, businesses and the community at-large as being less than. We call it racism, some others call it institutional racism, and we should all agree it is flat out wrong!