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

Román Martínez

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(83 pages)

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Born 1958 in Cuero, Texas. Mr. Marti´nez was among the first group of Mexican American state representatives elected in Harris County. He was re-elected for five additional terms. Among his many legislative accomplishments was to obtain line item funding for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.

Interview Summary:

Mr. Martínez discusses the reasons that he decided to become a political activist on Mexican American issues and seek election to state office. He describes his participation in the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) at Yale University and its influence on him and how that led to his interest in pursuing politics on behalf of Mexican American interests and rights. He also talks about the minority student recruitment program at Yale University that resulted in a substantial number of Mexican American young people from Texas going to Yale. Mr. Martínez details key elements of his work in Texas politics. He describes political issues in which he became involved such as statewide redistricting, high school drop out legislation, and, building new schools in Houston's Hispanic areas. He talks about the details involved in getting the legislature to establish line item funding to create the Mexican American Cultural Center at the University of Houston in spite of the protests of University officials. He tells about the racial prejudices and struggles that Mexican American legislators faced both locally and statewide in getting positive results for the Hispanic community. Mr. Martínez describes the problems he experienced as a political candidate in Texas politics. He talks about the difficulties of raising money to support his candidacy and being politically disadvantaged by wealthier political opponents. Mr. Martínez details his constant fights against political maneuvering by opponents and members of the Mexican American community. He tells how he supported himself financially by building up his own taxi cab company which was the first Mexican American owned taxi cab business in the Houston area.

Locations of residence or activity:

Harris County

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