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New Film “Wela” Aims To Keep Cemento Grande’s Memories And History Alive

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Growing up, Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz didn’t hear her grandmother talk about life in Cemento Grande or Cement City, the town built for workers of The Trinity Portland Cement Company in the early 1900s. She’s in her 80s now and Ferrell-Ortiz wanted to document her story before it’s too late. So she interviewed her and made a film. It’s called “Wela,” short for abuelita, or grandmother in Spanish. Ferrell-Ortiz says it’s a way to honor Lupe Barrera Chapa and others with ties to Cemento Grande. “I really hope that people, especially residents from West Dallas, feel empowered by their history and empowered to use that history in the present and future to activate their voices and express the needs and wants they have for their larger community.” Ferrell-Ortiz’s grandmother has lived in the area 70 years. Her father and brother worked at the cement plant, which is how she met her husband. The town of Cement City was incorporated in the early 1900s. Many who lived there were Mexican immigrants,