This Selena Quintanilla-Pérez Day, How Family and Fans Honor the Her Legacy 26 Years After Her Death

Selena Quintanilla receives Grammy Award at The 36th Annual Grammy Awards on March 1, 1994
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Selena Quintanilla-Pérez would have turned 50 this April 16. Although she is gone, her legacy lives on.

April 16 is Selena Day. According to National Today, then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush declared Selena Quintanilla-Pérez's birthday as Selena Day two weeks after her untimely death. And 2021's Selena Day is especially significant as the singer, songwriter and queen of Tejano music would’ve turned 50 years old.

But instead of seeing Selena mark her golden birthday, this year marks 26 years since she was killed on March 31, 1995. The "Selena" movie, featuring Jennifer Lopez, also turns 24. The film was released in theaters on March 21, 1997.

Selena’s career was cut short when Yolanda Saldivar, her friend, fan club president and the manager of her boutiques, murdered her. Selena Forever explains that after the Selena discovered that Saldivar was embezzling money from the fan club and money was missing from the Selena Etc. account, they fired her.

On March 31, 1995, Selena wanted to retrieve paperwork and agreed to meet Saldivar at the Corpus Christi Days Inn. Upon meeting, Saldivar told Selena she’d been raped the night before, and Selena drove her to the hospital. While there, doctors found no evidence of rape.

Back at the motel, Selena and Saldivar began arguing.  At 11:48 a.m., Selena turned to run from the room, and Saldivar drew a gun from her purse and shot her in the back. Selena was rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead at 1:05 p.m. She was 23 years old.

In October 1995, Yolanda Saldivar was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. She is currently serving her time at Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas and is eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.

Over the past few weeks, several family members turned to social media to pay tribute to the 26th anniversary of their loved one's death. On her official Instagram page, they shared a glowing purple and white rose with the message "Remembering Selena’s life and legacy."

The rose has significance, according to People. A rose was Selena’s favorite flower, and black and purple were her favorite colors. It also represents a dream that Selena reportedly had several times before being killed.

“In the repeated dream (which was said to have frightened the late star), Selena reportedly saw a white rose that was thrown at her — but she could never catch the rose, nor see who threw it — and the dream was said to have ended with the appearance of a white light every time," People wrote. “Several of her longtime music listeners believe it was a premonition of her death."

In an interview with Seattle PI, Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla, explained that during her funeral on April 3, 1995, the over 60,000 people in attendance were asked to bring roses.

“You know, we all favor certain flowers. My mom's is a daisy. And our family knew that Selena loved white roses," she said. "When she passed away, my brother told her fans to bring white roses. And when everyone came to say their goodbyes to her, there was a sea of thousands and thousands of white roses.

“So that just became like a symbol that’s associated with Selena – the white rose," she continued. "And it is something that we felt was symbolic to Selena, so it kind of became symbolic to her name and all that Selena signifies. Since then, anything that you would see with Selena’s picture is generally depicted with white roses.”

Chris Pérez, Selena’s husband, recently shared that he took time around the anniversary of her death to get away and reflect. “Get away they said.....OK...just me and some music....and a few the place Selena and I came to film her Amor Prohibido video,” he wrote on Instagram. 

In a recent episode of "E! True Hollywood Story: Death of Innocence,” Pérez also shared how her death continues to affect him now. "It was traumatic. It was the hardest thing up until that point that I had ever had to go through," Pérez explained. "I miss her face, her laughter. She was just an amazing soul, an amazing spirit. I heard fans that were like, 'How could we let that happen?' Come on now. You think that I would let anything happen to her? Like seriously? None of us thought that that was even a possibility.”

Both her brother and sister honored the anniversary of her passing on social media, too.

Suzette Quintanilla shared a photo of a white rose with the caption, "Te amo y Te extrano."

A.B. Abraham Isaac Quintanilla shared an illustration of her and wrote, "Miss ya Sister..."

And even though it’s been 26 years since she passed, Selena's star power is still felt. In 2020, she was named the Greatest of all Time Female Latin Artist by Billboard. This was done based on a formula combining all titles on both the weekly Hot Latin Songs chart and the Top Latin Albums tally.

RIAA Gold & Platinum Awards then announced Selena has the #1 certified Latin album in all of U.S. music history. Her hit “Dreaming of You” is 59x platinum.

In 2020, Selena was also the third most googled woman in Latin or Spanish music. Coming in behind only Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

In 2021, at the 63rd annual Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy recognized Selena and presented her with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.

On Instagram, they stated, “The Queen of Tejano became a household name not long after her career took off in the 1980s. Her 1993 album, 'Live,' won Best Mexican-American Album at the 36th Annual GRAMMY Awards, marking the first time a female Tejano artist won the category.”

“Though her life was tragically cut short in 1995, Selena's crossover album, the posthumously released 'Dreaming Of You,' sold 175,000 copies on the day of its release, a then-record for a female vocalist.”

And as far as her popularity, it's still building.  

Netflix just announced that part two of "Selena: The Series" drops on May 4. Part one premiered in December 2020, and in the first four weeks alone, 25 million households tuned in to watch. Proving that Selena's legacy is still felt, and she continues to lives on.

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