Mexican tapestery pattern

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

Manuel Valdez


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(56 pages)

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Biography:

Born in San Antonio, Texas. In the early 1980s, Mr. Valdez became the first Mexican American elected Justice of the Peace in Tarrant County, Texas. He organized the first Mexican American youth programs in Fort Worth in the early 1960s, and he is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Interview Summary:

Valdez tells about his educational experiences as a youth in the Fort Worth, Texas, public schools and his education at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), where he earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice. He gives reasons he decided to go into the military and he talks about his experiences in the Vietnam conflict. Valdez describes his student political activity as a member and president of the Association of Mexican American Students (AMAS) organization while attending UTA. He elaborates upon his experiences in organizing barrio youth group activities in Fort Worth as Director of Fort Worth's recreation centers. Valdez describes the financial and political difficulties in keeping the barrio youth centers open, and he credits AMAS volunteers with helping to staff and run the tutoring programs. He also credits the Community Action Agency with assuring the funding for the barrio youth programs, and the barrio students for their tireless efforts in lobbying the Fort Worth City Council to allow the centers to remain operational. Valdez concludes the interview by relating the circumstances surrounding his decision to seek elective office as a justice of the peace, and he gives details on how his political campaigns were financed and managed.

Locations of residence or activity:

Tarrant County

Interview Date:

2/13/1998