Latinitas honors trailblazers with mosaics at Austin Central Library

Janet Means Scott, right, of San Antonio, hugs Lolita Rodriguez at a ceremony Thursday at the Austin Central Library, where Latinitas honored trailblazing women of color, including Janet’s mother, Bertha Sadler Means, with mosaic portraits. Rodriguez is the artist who created the portrait of Means.

Earlier this year, Laura Donnelly, founder and CEO of Latinitas, a nonprofit dedicated to the empowerment of girls, was looking for a way to tell the stories about how women today gained their identities.

“What was the legacy of times before ‘Me, Too,’ ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Time’s Up’?” Donnelly said Thursday. “There were the amazing, original, courageous women who came before. Latinitas is here because they broke down the barriers.”

Her group led the effort to honor permanently and publicly the Austin women of color who blazed the trails. These efforts took the form of mosaic portraits, six of them now embedded on plinths in the landscaped plaza at the Austin Central Public Library.

Peggy Vasquez, right, talks to City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes at the Latinitas ceremony Thursday. She was one of the honorees. Vasquez created "Hispanic Today," a television program that has introduced Austin to many leaders in the Hispanic community.

The art was unveiled under clear skies at a ceremony Thursday morning. Dignitaries joined two of the living honorees, as well as the families and friends of the others celebrated that day. 

“This is another big tribute to a lady who led a fantastic life,” said San Antonio resident Janet Means Scott, daughter of the late honoree Bertha Sadler Means.

The mosaics — which might move around to other Austin libraries — unveiled Thursday honor:

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