The Heroines

Amalia Vasquez Jensen

is honored with a Brick from Estela M. Martinez.

 Amalia Vasquez Jensen My mother Amalia Vasquez Jensen was only nine months old when her parents brought her to Wichita from Chihuahua, Mexico. My grandfather, Alberto Vasquez, was a tailor; having this profession made it easy to establish himself here.

When my mother started school, Spanish was her primary language. She went through some difficult times, even with her name. The teacher would tell her there is no such name as Amalia, "your name is Amelia." She never stopped correcting the teacher to let her know that her name was indeed Amalia.

When her mother was in the hospital at St. Francis, they had her in a segregated area, not because of her illness, but because she was a Mexican. She questioned the nurse and they said there were no other rooms available. My mother checked and there were a lot of empty rooms. My mother was only 16 years old when my grandmother died at 36. She has always been spunky and a fighter for justice.

When I was four years old, she took me to have my hair cut. They refused because I was of Mexican descent. We went to an attorney. He took action to change their mind, and I got my haircut after my Mother was assured by the attorney that they would not, in any way, harm me or give me a bad cut.

My Mother always demanded equality. She taught me to take pride in who I am and showed me how important it is to have integrity.

I never grew up with hatred for prejudiced people; I believe they show their ignorance in prejudging others by the color of their skin.

My Mother is a classy and intelligent person, although she only went to the 9th grade. She taught me many things, including how to type before I entered junior high. I had a working mother since I was five years old. She would go to work at 6:OO A.M. and be home when I got out of school at 3:00 P.M. My sister and I took our lunch to school but on Mother's day off, we would go home at noon and she would fix what we wanted for lunch. It was usually mashed potatoes, gravy, and fried chicken.

I realize how terribly unselfish my mother has been with my sister and me. She is today a young 81 years. I love her and respect her, and I am extremely grateful for all of the values she has instilled in me.

July 28, 1998