Legacy Interview – Alfredo Santos

Date of Interview: March 10, 2021
Interviewed By: Chuy Ramriez
Posted: 3/20/21

Alfredo Santos, newspaper publisher and editor

A child’s creativity is revealed unexpectantly at a very young age. His use of crayons is meticulous, as he colors within the lines—always. Her lexicon is noticeably expansive, and she weaves words together with a skill unusual for a pre-adolescent.  Alfredo Santos’ first written story so impressed his fourth-grade teacher at Harrison Elementary School in Stockton, Calf., that she promptly advised the school principal of her accomplished student’s skills.  Since that day, Alfredo has never stopped writing.

In 2021, Alfredo Santos celebrates over 30 years as the Austin founder, publisher and editor of La Voz, [1] whose hard-print market is the Central Texas region. The publication is a crossbreed, assembling the traditional ink and paper news variety with a strong community-based focus.  “We don’t publish bad news,” Alfredo tells us. “We leave that up to the other print newspapers.”   A visit to La Voz’ website at www.lavoznewspapers.com confirms that.  But the bilingual publication also includes book reviews, oral histories and the occasional sports story.  For instance, in the March edition of the newspaper, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarette shares an uplifting story of NFL coach Tom Flores.   Apparently, Navarette and Flores share the same hometown, Sanger, California.   Tom Flores was nominated in January 2021 for induction into the National Football Hall of Fame.

Alfredo’s unique life story begins in the early 1950s in Uvalde, Texas. He is a third generation Uvaldeno.  His grandfather was one of the first businessmen in the city to acquire a liquor license after Prohibition.  Alfredo’s father would become a sheep/goat-shearing crew leader.  Similar to farm labor crews, sheep/goat-shearing crews were managed by small business entrepreneurs who owned the trucks and equipment.  They also joined a migrant stream which would temporarily take the crews from Uvalde, Del Rio, Pecos and other communities to states like Montana.  When the elder Santos passed at an early, Alfredo’s mother took the family to Stockton.

Parading back and forth from Texas and California would provide Alfredo a unique language and cultural experience.  It would be during one of those stays in Uvalde when a Mexican American student walkout at the local public schools would dramatically alter Alfredo’s schooling and that of hundreds of other kids.  The incident had arisen over the school district’s renewal of a Mexican American teacher’s employment contract.  Eventually, the scope of the quarrel would expand with Mexican Americans scrutinizing the school district’s long-held inflexible policies which included segregated schools and “English-only” pedagogy. Hundreds of students would have to defer their high school graduation.  Alfredo, and many others, would never return to finish school at Uvalde.

In a world which has gone digitized, there is still a niche for an entrepreneur to put out a community newspaper like La Voz and make a living at it.  That is good to know.  Alfredo tells us that the most important thing he has learned as a publisher-editor is to listen.  Let’s heed that remark and sit back and listen to his interview.

End Notes
[1] Link up with La Voz, at www.lavoznewspapers.com.

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