Flaco Jimenez to be honored at SAAHJ annual gala

Among those being honored this summer by the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists is musician Flaco Jimenez, a five-time Grammy Award winner who helped introduce Tejano music to a wider audience.

“He is just legendary,” SAAHJ President Laura Garcia said. “We thought it’s time that we honor someone like that.”

The SAAHJ Annual Scholarship and Awards Gala recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to the community in some way, shape or form.

This year’s event, sponsored by health care company WellMed, will be held at 6 pm July 23 at the St. Anthony Hotel on East Travis Street. There, the association will distribute $40,000 in scholarships to 11 area students studying journalism and mass communications.

The scholarships include $5,000 for an “outstanding Latino student” interested in pursuing a career as a reporter or author, according to the SAAHJ. That scholarship is funded by Shea Serrano, a San Antonio native and New York Times bestselling author known for writing about sports, movies and music.

“The students we’re aiming to help are, at many times, economically disadvantaged, and they really rely on things like scholarships and financial aid to help get through college,” Garcia, herself a former scholarship recipient, said, noting the association will be “giving out more per student than we ever have” this year. “It’s so important for us to help our students, especially students of color, graduate and get their foot in the door to work in newsrooms.”

In addition to scholarships, SAAHJ will also be presenting its annual awards.

The San Antonio Food Bank will receive the Community Service Award for “its inspiring response to the coronavirus pandemic and its work addressing hunger and poverty in the predominantly Mexican American seventh-largest city in the nation,” according to a news release from SAAHJ.

“Everybody knows that the food bank is amazing, but I think they really shone during the pandemic, when COVID-19 exposed these economic disparities in San Antonio,” Garcia said.

Music journalist Ramón Hernández will receive the Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism for his coverage of Tejano music over more than three decades.

Hernández, a former freelancer for the Express-News, also built an enormous trove of Tejano music memorabilia, including instruments owned by famous names such as Isidro López, “Little Joe” Hernández, Sunny Ozuna and Selena, in that time. The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University acquired hes collection in 2018.

Jimenez will receive the Corazón de Oro Award, which “honors individuals and groups that have made significant contributions to the US Latino landscape throughout their work and careers,” according to the SAAHJ. He was born on the South Side in 1939 and rose to fame for his mastery of the accordion.

Both Hernández and Jimenez “are so deserving,” Garcia said.

The gala is open to the public, though only a limited number of individual tickets will be sold. Tables are available at prices ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Garcia said she expects about 250 people to attend.

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