Selena Quintanilla-Pérez’s legacy is one that has transcended generations, languages and cultures. The Tejano music star was born April 16, 1971 — today would’ve been her 50th birthday. We recently asked you, our readers, what her legacy means to you and your responses highlight the lasting impact Selena has had on so many people even 26 years after her tragic death. We’re sharing some of those responses here, lightly edited. You can contribute your own reflections on Twitter or Instagram.
‘Her legacy means everything to me and how I view myself and my culture’
Delilah Alvarado: Her legacy means everything to me and how I view myself and my culture. It lives on because it resonated with a group of people who never really felt seen before. She was a Hispanic woman growing up in Texas trying to find her place as a Mexican American during a time when no one wanted to talk about the cultural difference there was.
‘We all mourn what could’ve been’
Roselle Tenorio: I think a large part of the reason her legacy lives on today is because we all mourn what could have been. However, I think it would be more beneficial to our community if we invested in those currently living and creating the culture. As a seventh-generation Tejana myself, I honor Selena’s legacy by investing in youth performing arts, local artist work and curated events.
‘She was what I wanted to be’
Jessica Medel: I was 14 when she passed away. As a Hispanic American [woman], we didn’t have idols to look up to until her. She was what I wanted to be. I was curvy and felt no need to fit the mold set by others. … Her legacy lives on because she was a natural talent and a beautiful soul. Her music lives on through others because she spoke to many in her angelic voice.
‘Selena represented the ability to live my Mexican American culture out loud’
Amy Hinojosa: For a teenager in Texas, Selena represented the ability to live my Mexican American culture out loud. She became this bridge between the music my family listened to at backyard barbecues and mainstream pop culture. Music is a great connector, and love for Selena transcended age, gender, race and ethnicity.
‘She also shattered so many barriers in her short lifetime’
Kate Villarreal: To me, Selena put Tejana culture on the map. She broadened the popular perception of what it meant to be Texan and to have Mexican American roots. I think her legacy lives on today in part because of the “it factor” she embodied and her legendary talent, but she also shattered so many barriers in her short lifetime, which so many find inspirational.