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Paying homage to legendary Hispanic community advocates

Paying homage to legendary Hispanic community advocates

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 — For Hispanic Heritage Month the UTSA Libraries Special Collections archive has provided a trove of historical images of Mexican American organizers and activists who have dedicated their lives in support of community advocacy. From the heart of Texas in San Antonio and across the United States, these leaders rallied community members to register to vote, marched for worker rights, and raised the voces of la raza in empowerment. With Election Day just weeks away, UTSA—as a proud Hispanic Serving Institution—honors these legends and their roles in their community’s heritage.


Rally the Community, Rally the Vote

Labor leader and union organizer Emma Tenayuca

Labor leader and union organizer Emma Tenayuca sits on the witness stand in a Bexar County courtroom during her trial on charges of unlawful assembly and disturbing the peace, circa 1937. Tenayuca was well-known for her work organizing Mexican workers in Texas during the 1930s, particularly for leading the 1938 strike in San Antonio when she led 12,000 pecan shellers off the job for months.

UTSA Libraries Special Collections has an archival recorded interview with Tenayuca that is part of the José Angel Gutiérrez Papers.

(SAN ANTONIO LIGHT PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Mario Compean

Mario Compean, a leader of the civil rights group Mexican American Youth Organization and a founder of La Raza Unida, speaks at a Raza Unida rally at San Antonio’s Municipal Auditorium on May 4, 1970.

(SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


José Angel Gutiérrez

José Angel Gutiérrez, another founder of La Raza Unida and the Mexican American Youth Organization, speaks at a Raza Unida rally at San Antonio’s Municipal Auditorium on May 4, 1970.

Gutiérrez, who was a leading Chicano activist and political leader in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s, would go on to become a Zavala County judge.

(SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


William Benavides, Gloria Cabrera, Rosie Castro M.A. ’83 and Mario Compean

La Raza Unida city council candidates William Benavides, Gloria Cabrera, Rosie Castro M.A. ’83 and Mario Compean attend the 1971 opening of the Committee for Barrio Betterment headquarters in San Antonio.

(SAN ANTONIO LIGHT PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Rosie Castro, Modesto Rodriguez and Mario Compean

La Raza Unida political party members Rosie Castro M.A. ’83, Modesto Rodriguez and Mario Compean speak at a June 26, 1975, press conference at Cassiano Park in San Antonio.

Rodriguez, who was the party’s Frio County chairman, had announced his intention to file a lawsuit against a group of state law enforcement officers for beating him after he talked to U.S. Justice Department investigators about voting irregularities in Pearsall and Frio counties.

(SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Community organizer and activist Maria del Rosario Rosie Castro M.A. 83

Community organizer and activist Rosie Castro M.A. ’83 speaks at a June 26, 1975, press conference at Cassiano Park in San Antonio.

Castro first worked as a volunteer for Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign and later joined La Raza Unida and the Mexican American Unity Council, speaking out for rights of Chicanos in Texas.

Alumna Castro will return to UTSA on September 30 as the keynote speaker for “La Luche Sigue: Building on a Legacy from the Past to the Future,” a university Hispanic Heritage Month event.

(SAN ANTONIO LIGHT PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Zavala County Judge José Angel Gutiérrez speaks at UTSA

Invited by the university’s Mexican American Student Organization, Zavala County Judge José Angel Gutiérrez speaks at UTSA on November 24, 1976, about Mexican American politics in Texas. The José Angel Gutiérrez Papers are archived in UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

(SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez speaks at a United Farm Workers rally outside H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio

Labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez speaks at a United Farm Workers rally outside H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio on July 30, 1990, during which UFW petitioned the grocery chain to stop selling grapes.

(SAN ANTONIO LIGHT PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Voting rights advocates Willie Velasquez and Andy Hernandez display a map of Mexican American voter polling in San Antonio

Voting rights advocates Willie Velasquez and Andy Hernandez display a map of Mexican American voter polling in San Antonio during a March 4, 1982, press conference.

Velasquez founded in 1974 and served as president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, the largest and oldest nonpartisan Latino voter organization in the United States.

Hernandez succeeded Velasquez as the organization’s president in 1988 after the founder’s death.

The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Records, accumulated between 1974 and 1994, are archived in UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

(SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Southwest Voter Registration Education Project volunteers help community members in Laredo register to vote

Southwest Voter Registration Education Project volunteers help community members in Laredo register to vote outside San Luis Rey Church on September 27, 1992. The project would regularly organize registration drives, particularly in Texas and California, with the aim of helping Latinos participate in the voting process.

(SOUTHWEST VOTER REGISTRATION EDUCATION PROJECT RECORDS / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


A Southwest Voter Registration Education Project volunteer posts a notice about one of the organization’s upcoming voter registration drives

A Southwest Voter Registration Education Project volunteer posts a notice about one of the organization’s upcoming voter registration drives at a neighborhood market, circa 1990s.

(SOUTHWEST VOTER REGISTRATION EDUCATION PROJECT RECORDS / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush attends a Hispanic voter registration campaign event with Willie Velasquez

Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush attends a Hispanic voter registration campaign event with Willie Velasquez, president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, circa 1987.

(SOUTHWEST VOTER REGISTRATION EDUCATION PROJECT RECORDS / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)


Registrense y Voten, a registration drive poster

“Registrense y Voten,” a registration drive poster produced by the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, circa 1990s.

(SOUTHWEST VOTER REGISTRATION EDUCATION PROJECT RECORDS / UTSA LIBRARIES SPECIAL COLLECTIONS)



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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.