Historical marker to honor Chicana playwright, El Paso native Estela Portillo Trambley

Native El Pasoan Estela Portillo Trambley will get a historical marker in her honor at the Chamizal National Memorial. Wochit

(Photo: Courtesy of Tracey Trambley)

Native El Pasoan and playwright Estela Portillo Trambley will be honored with a historical marker at the Chamizal National Memorial on Saturday.

Portillo Trambley was an award-winning fiction writer, playwright and poet known for her vivid portrayals of strong and independent Mexican and Mexican-American women. She was recognized as one of the first "Chicano renaissance" authors.

Portillo Trambley, who died in January 1999, was one of the first female Mexican American writers to achieve a national reputation. She drew inspiration from the people and her experiences of El Paso. Her play "Puente Negro," or Black Bridge, which is one of her best known, focuses on immigration — a continuing national issue.

"Day of the Swallows," also won her the Quinto Sol Award in 1972.

Beyond being an award-wining playwright, she also co-founded Los Pobres, a bilingual theater in El Paso, and hosted a political radio show. She also directed and wrote a cultural television program in the 1970s.

Officials with the Chamizal National Memorial and the El Paso County Historical Commission will dedicate the historical marker at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Chamizal’s Spanish Garden between the Cultural Center and Administrative Building, 800 S. San Marcial Street.

Chamizal Superintendent F. Gus Sanchez said the historical marker will honor a person who experienced first-hand the events surrounding the Chamizal treaty which the park commemorates, and who debuted many of her plays in the Memorial’s theater.

“We hope that she, as someone who understood Chamizal National Memorial to be a symbol of reconciliation and friendship between the United States and Mexico, would be honored to have her legacy represented here as well,” Sanchez said in a statement.

The dedication ceremony will feature several speakers, including Janine Young, chair of the El Paso County Historical Commission; Tracey Trambley, Estela Portillo Trambley’s daughter; and Yolanda Chávez Leyva from the Department of History at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Information: www.nps.gov/chamizal

Elida S. Perez may be reached at 546-6137; eperez@elpasotimes.com; @ElidaSPerezEPT on Twitter.

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