Soy Segura y Estoy Segura
The Texas Story Project.
Segura: when you look this term up and translate it from Spanish to English, the definition you will find is being “sure” in a feminine sense. However, Segura in South Texas-- more specifically in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV)-- is the last name of a family that has worked as field workers and in the trucking industry for more than fifty-two years. In this story, I will focus on the life of Maria Amanda (La Güera) Segura who alongside her husband Bernardo Castillo Segura not only created a common town name but created job opportunities for many lower income individuals in the RGV. Most importantly I will focus on how her role as woman surpassed being a great mother. She was a leader, an advocate, and the only woman in her time to be supervising a field. Though at many times Amanda and her husband had to migrate to other states such as California and Wisconsin, this story focuses on her life in Texas, which is her home.
At the age of eighteen, Amanda married a man named Bernardo C. Segura who at the time had already had years of experience working in the fields. When they got married, they hit the ground running. As Amanda said when I interviewed her, they “had no time to waste. We either had to start working or not have anything.” This automatically showed me how dedicated she was to making a good life for not only herself but the family she would eventually have. Back in the day, it was almost taboo to see a woman working outside of the household. However, those gender roles did not stop Amanda from working by her husband. She was pretty adamant that she was just as capable, or even more capable, of doing a better job than the men she worked with, asserting “les ganaba a los hombres.”
Working in the fields became so much a part of their life that they basically raised a family in the fields. Together, Amanda and Bernardo had four children--three boys and one girl. In her interview, Amanda made it clear that her biggest regret was not being able to go to school. In fact, she believes that if she had had access to school, she would have become someone big in life. Realizing all that she had not had the access to when she was growing up, she decided to give it to her children. She made sure that she put all of them through school and even pushed them to pursue higher education. Two of them did: Robert Segura achieved his dream of becoming a pharmacist and Norma Segura continued her academic success to pursue a career as an educator. As kids, Amanda would make her children work in the fields to show them the life that they did not want to live. Even when two of her children were attending college, she never allowed them to work. Her explanation was that she did not want them to think that a couple hundred dollars would forever be enough.
They were a team, as Amanda said. They worked together, raised a family, and when it came to hiring people, they made sure that they both agreed on who would be working for them. Many of the people that Amanda had working for her were from the RGV. Though she did not directly say it, she implied that when she and her husband gave these jobs out they wanted to give them to the people who were hardworking, in need, and trying to create a better future as were they. They did this for many years together. Sadly, this dynamic duo did not end the way that they had hoped. At the age of eighty-two, Bernardo was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and slowly but surely he was no longer the same though he tried so hard to be. It was a tough time, but this did not slow Amanda down one bit. She kept working and would even bring Bernardo to look at the fields and give him little jobs to do so that he did not feel as if he was being treated any different. Rather than sit around and dwell on all the bad that was going on, Amanda tackled the job as head supervisor. When asked if she was sure that she could handle this job she responded with, “Estoy segura.”
At that point her history started. She tackled a job that no other woman in her area had yet held and she was the only woman to be working in a business that was dominated by men. As you can tell, she was far from ordinary. She was remarkable. While working season after season Amanda began to notice that there was some injustice taking place. Her workers were not being paid the wages that she believed they earned. So, she served as the middle man between her boss and her workers and told her boss how her workers needed a better wage for not only being outside in those dangerous temperatures but for the distance that they would have to travel every day to make it to work. It got to the point where some of her bosses already knew that if the fruit they were picking that day was going to be bad, they would automatically add a couple dollars to the wage of the workers and those that did not, well, you bet the first person knocking on the door that morning was going to be Amanda. When I asked Amanda why she would do this, she told me that it was because if the workers were not paid right they would not enter the field to work and that she ultimately had to side with her workers.
When asked what her greatest accomplishment was, she answered, “paving the way for not only my children but my grandchildren and being able to see that they are getting educated and chasing the dreams I could not will always be my biggest accomplishment. My husband would have been proud to know that we were able to do that.” Now Amanda spends her time with her family and making floral arrangements. However, she told me that she is currently in talks with her old boss to see if there is any way that she could potentially work in the fields this summer because she loved working there. I think that it is important to always remember that field workers are much more than their title. They are dreamers, achievers, and people who pave the way for their families.
Alexa Amanda Casares is an eighteen-year-old first-year student at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. She is double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, Alexa aspires to attend law school, become an immigration attorney, and run for Congress in the RGV. Awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the State of Texas in 2018, Alexa hopes to continue her excellence by helping her community back home and helping those who do not have voices. She would also like to credit all of her accomplishments to her family who support her and have paved the way for her.
Posted May 03, 2020