Mexican tapestery pattern

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

Nephtali De León


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(97 pages)

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Biography:

Nephtalí De León was born in Laredo in 1945 and spent his early years in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. His family settled in Lubbock in the late 1950s and he graduated from Lubbock High School in 1961. He is a writer, artist, and poet who has worked frequently as an artist in residence and began his own publishing company. As a political activist, self-identifying as 'Chicano,' he published his own Spanish-language newspaper, ran for Lubbock city council circa 1967, and has been involved with the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), the Brown Berets and the Raza Unida Party.

Interview Summary:

Nephtalí De León expresses his views on Chicano culture and the underlying philosophy of his art and writing, noting its basis in the work of José Vasconcelos. He defines 'Aztlán' and explains the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA). He details his family background, his travels as a young man, and his own experiences with race discrimination. He connects pollution of the Rio Grande to the death of his own daughter and describes political turmoil of the Chicano movement in Texas. He highlights several incidents involving protest marches, strikes, and related arrests. He talks at length about his letter to President Richard Nixon, related correspondence with Bella Abzug and other public figures, and subsequent surveillance conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Secret Service. Mr. De León recalls his run for election to the city council in Lubbock as the Raza Unida Party candidate and refers to the Mexican American Conference held in El Paso in 1967 to address racial inequity and oppression. He refers to the death of Heriberto Terán (Terán/Naret) in Boulder, Colorado, and the murder of Orlando Letelier, Chilean ambassador to the United Nations. He mentions such prominent Hispanics as Rodolpho 'Corky' Gonzales, Cesar Chavez, Antonio Orendain, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, Ruben Salazar, and Ricardo Mora.

Locations of residence or activity:

Lubbock

Interview Date:

11/20/1999