Mexican tapestery pattern

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

Charles Cotrell


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(47 pages)

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Biography:

Dr. Cotrell was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1940, and is the President of St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He was professor to many Chicano activists of the late 1960s at Texas A & I and St. Mary's universities. Dr. Cotrell was an active participant in many civil rights causes, such as La Casita Farms strike, and mentor to youth in the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO). He was a founder of the Mexican American Unity Council in San Antonio and became an expert witness in many single-member redistricting cases.

Interview Summary:

Dr. Cotrell describes his early relationships with Mexican American friends and neighbors and gives a brief overview of his education. He discusses the Mexican American student activism he witnessed and supported as a professor at Texas A & I and St. Mary's universities, and gives his opinion about why those campuses and communities generated such activity. Dr. Cotrell speaks of the formation of PASO (Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations) and MAYO (Mexican American Youth Organization) and describes his role therein as that of guide and supporter of the involved students (who included Jose´ Angel Gutie´rrez) and their ideas. He briefly discusses his participation in the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC). He analyzes the importance of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (and its 1975 and 1982 extensions) in bringing the Mexican American community and other minority groups into the mainstream of the electoral process. Dr. Cotrell talks of San Antonio and Bexar County politics and leaders, devoting the most detail to Henry Cisneros and María Antonietta Berriozábal (CMAS No. 33). He laments the lack of dominant leadership figures and the effects of political term limits on the development of Mexican American leaders. In conclusion, Dr. Cotrell speaks of his hopes for and doubts about San Antonio's future.

Locations of residence or activity:

San Antonio

Interview Date:

7/2/1996