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Texas Matters: Unsung Heroes Of Texas Latino Civil Rights

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After World War II, Mexican American veterans returned home to lead the struggle for civil rights.

Many of their stories have been recorded by the Voces Oral History Project founded and directed by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez at the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism.

In her new book “Texas Mexican Americans and Post War Civil Rights Rivas Rodriguez tells the stories of three lesser known battles in Mexican American civil rights in Texas.

Rivas Rodriguez recounts the successful effort led by parents to integrate the Alpine, Texas, public schools in 1969—fifteen years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate schools were inherently unconstitutional.

Also described is El Paso’s first Mexican American mayor, Raymond Telles, and how he challenged institutionalized racism to integrate the city’s police and fire departments, thus opening civil service employment to Mexican Americans.

The final account provides the first history of the early days of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and its founder Pete Tijerina Jr. from MALDEF’s incorporation in San Antonio in 1968 until its move to San Francisco in 1972.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.