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

Frances Peña

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(42 pages)

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Frances Guajardo Peña was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1947 where she graduated from Brackenridge High School. She obtained her associates degree from San Antonio College and attended Incarnate Word College and St. Mary's University. She was a junior member of LULAC and, as a student, she was involved in the Mexican-American Unity Council (MAUC), MANCO (Mexican American Neighborhood Civic Organization), the Brown Berets, and the Raza Unida Party. She married her first husband, Jesse Guerra, in 1969; they divorced in 1977. She was a community volunteer and active with Inner City Advocates, the Committee to Educate on Voting Rights and Procedures, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. She served as MAUC's Assistant Manpower Director and in other capacities on U.S. Department of Labor sponsored programs such as Project Learn to Build, Jobs '70, and Project SER. She lived in Corpus Christi during her first marriage, but returned to San Antonio after her divorce. At the time of the interview, she was married to Albert Peña (Jr.). She died in 2006.

Interview Summary:

Frances Guajardo Peña explains the purpose of the Su Voz Es Su Voto rally and traces its origins to her work with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. She talks about the work of the Committee to Educate on Voting Rights and Procedures and details the makeup of the Inner City Advocates (InCA), a group founded by her husband, Albert Peña (Jr.). She describes the efforts of her father, José Manuel Guajardo, as a lawyer in San Antonio and in encouraging activism in the family. She speaks of her family background and homelife and highlights the time she heard Cesar Chavez speak during a Chicano movement rally. She recounts her political activities as a student and defines her involvement with the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC). She provides details about her first husband's family business, Green's Jewelers in Corpus Christi, and reveals the origin of its non-Hispanic business name. She recalls the race discrimination she saw in Corpus Christi in contrast to her life in San Antonio and discusses her part in creating a trade school in San Antonio under Project Learn to Build in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor. She relates the origins of the Fiestas Patrias (Mexico's Independence Day celebrations) at Mission County Park in San Antonio and attributes the success of the Fiestas Patrias celebrations to the efforts of the Ladies LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) 648. She refers to the leadership of Joyce Peters as the Bexar County Democratic Party chair and berates Henry Cisneros' failure to improve the Alazán Apache apartments in San Antonio's public housing as mayor or while head of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). She laments the weakening of LULAC when José Velez of Las Vegas, Nevada served as its president (1990-1994). She mentions Mexican American politician Victor Morales and San Antonio mayoral candidate Kay (H.) Turner. The interview was conducted at a Su Voz Es Su Voto rally.

Locations of residence or activity:

San Antonio, Corpus Christi

Interview Date: