In 1972, two University of Houston student artists came up with a plan to celebrate Mexican-American culture on campus. Cougars Mario Gonzales and Ruben Reyna created the University’s iconic Chicano Mural that was the centerpiece of student meeting space, the Cougar Den, for 40 years.
The original Cougar Den is now history following a recent renovation of UH’s University Center (UC), but the mural is in tact and continues to be a visible part of UH’s multicultural landscape.
The Chicano Mural has a new home in the Barnes & Noble bookstore at UH, which relocated to the ground level of the renovated UC. While the bookstore moved, the wall-sized mural remains in the same space in which it was created.
The painting depicts the progression of the Chicano movement through images of Aztecs, farmers and historical figures—Sor Juana de la Cruz, Benito Juarez, Emilio Zapata, Pancho Villa, Cesar Chavez, Alicia Escalante, Reis Lopez Tijerina. It also includes an image of people calling out for change. The image stands over eight feet tall and extends 50 feet.