Mead Fellowship Goes to Randy Torres

The 2020 Robert G. Mead Fellowship as UConn’s most outstanding first-year Latin Americanist graduate student has been awarded to Randy Torres, a student in El Instituto’s Master’s program in Latina/o and Latin American Studies. This award was created in memory of Professor Robert G Mead, Jr, the founder of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UConn. The Mead Fellowship will provide Torres with travel funding for research in Texas archives for his project, “The Southern Underground Railroad.”  The research that Torres is doing for his Instituto MA thesis paper focuses on the Southern Underground Railroad through Texas, into the Texas-Mexico borderlands, and further into Mexico. Extensive research has been conducted and published about the Underground Railroad originating in the Southern slaveholding states and going North in search of freedom. However, comparably little has been written about the enslaved people who sought freedom by fleeing South into Mexico. Torres’ research will look broadly at the history of these Southern-bound avenues of escape and more pointedly at the gaps in the historiography of these people and events. He aims to combine primary sources and vernacular histories from both sides of the porous U.S./Texas-Mexico border to find out more about what happened to the people who successfully escaped as well as those who did not. Afro-Mexican and Afro-Tejano communities along the border provide some evidence of the successes of the Southern Underground Railroad. Torres hopes that his research will further illuminate the stories of the people who lived and died in this place and time, and elucidate their influence on the region’s history for the following two hundred years.

Randy Torres