OUR FOUNDER: Anita N. Martinez
Anita N. Martinez is the genius and guiding light behind the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico, Inc.
Mrs. Anita Martinez, born in 1925, is a fifth-generation Texan and Mexican-American raised in the Dallas Mexican community known as “Little Mexico” ("El Barrio"). From a very early age, Mrs. Martinez exhibited a keen interest in community affairs and by the age of fourteen, she led her first movement going door-to-door collecting signatures for the pavement of Pearl Street in “Little Mexico.” Since then, she has spent over 64 years dedicated to involvement in community service work, gearing the attention of local media for all of her accomplishments.
Mrs. Martinez established the Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico (ANMBF) in response to the low self-esteem she gradually noticed amongst Hispanic youth. This was heavily due to the lack of history of Hispanic culture in educational curricula and the local stigma that emerged from unawareness of the rich heritage of Dallas’ Hispanic population. Mrs. Martinez anticipated that by educating Hispanic youth on the significance of their culture through the performing arts, they would gain vital acumen that would lead to an increased enthusiasm to aspire and pursue educational advancement. Over 40 years after its commencement, ANMBF has upheld its purpose and instilled confidence in generations of Hispanic youth through engagement and commitment to educational enlightenment numerously gaining statewide, national, and international recognition.
In 1969, Mrs. Martinez gained the honor of becoming the first Hispanic elected to serve as a Dallas City Council member and the first Hispanic woman elected into the City Council of a major United States city. Her passion for cultural consciousness and fight for societal equality led to an outstanding record of improvements in depressed communities of West Dallas and “Little Mexico.” As a tribute for her years of hard work, the Dallas City Council named a recreation center, the Anita N. Martinez Recreation Center, in honor of Mrs. Martinez for her efforts in the Hispanic community and throughout the city of Dallas.