Mexican tapestery pattern

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Funded in part by a grant from TexTreasures and by the UT Arlington Library.

Severita Lara


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(82 pages)

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Biography:

Born February 6, 1952, Ms. Lara was a leader of the 1969 student walkout of the Crystal City, Texas, schools. She was the first Mexican American woman to be elected County Judge in Texas in 1986, only to lose the position in an election contest. In 1992, Ms. Lara was elected to the City Council of Crystal City, and was later elected mayor by the council members.

Interview Summary:

Ms. Lara discusses her family history and genealogy. She describes race discrimination practices she experienced as a Mexican American student and she talks about her first encounters with political protests while she was in high school. Ms. Lara elaborates upon how she became a leader in Mexican American student protests with the culmination in the Crystal City student walkouts. She lauds her mentor, Jose´ Angel Gutie´rrez, and discusses how he influenced her to get involved in making social and political changes for the Mexican American community in Crystal City. She talks about the importance of education and relates that she earned a B.S. in biology in spite of not finishing high school. Ms. Lara tells about the problems that lack of campaign finance money created for her in pursuing political office, and she describes how trying to stay active in politics resulted in economic reprisals against her family by members of the political establishment. She gives details about her election to the Crystal City Council and her one-year appointment as mayor. She also describes her accomplishments during her year as mayor and gives reasons why she did not seek election to a full mayoral term. Ms. Lara explains the challenges she faced from the parents of her students who blamed La Raza Unida Party and Jose´ Angel Gutie´rrez for the down turn in the local economy. Ms. Lara concludes the interview by elaborating about the politics involved when she lost her bid for a county judge seat.

Locations of residence or activity:

Crystal City

Interview Date:

7/18/1996