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Irma Mireles was born in 1947 in Martindale, Texas and graduated from Breckenridge High School in San Antonio, Texas. In the interest of social justice, she has worked with the San Antonio Neighborhood Youth Organization (SANYO), the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), and the Committee for Barrio Betterment. She served as Chair of the Bexar County Raza Unida Party and as secretary for the national convention of the Raza Unida Party held in El Paso, Texas. In 1972, she worked in Mexico City under the Texas Institute for Educational Development. Irma Mireles served as president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 633 in San Antonio and served in office at both district and state levels. She won election to the San Antonio River Authority (SARA) in 1976. A single mother who never married, she moved to Alaska in 1990, and was employed by the city and borough of Juneau. She was appointed to the state advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, joined the parish council of her church, and was elected to the national board of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. At the time of the interview, she had returned to Texas and was living in San Antonio.
Irma Mireles begins the interview with her family background, her early memories of racial discrimination, and her interest in the developing Chicano movement. She talks about her community involvement through her friendships with Anna Rojas and Rosie Castro, and her activities with the Raza Unida Party. She notes her work in coordinating scholarships for Mexican Americans through the Texas Institute for Educational Development. She discusses her election to the San Antonio River Authority as the only woman on the board, and reveals the questionable activities she encountered. She discusses her activism during the years she lived in Juneau, Alaska, 1990-1998, and describes how she addressed the lack of cultural awareness of the Hispanic population by expanding local radio programming and getting the Univision television network into the community. She points out a number of historical events significant to Hispanics in Alaska and explains how she encouraged her parish to follow the traditional Hispanic celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Irma Mireles describes how she lobbied against English-only legislation and in favor of the rights of Hispanic Americans and Eskimos in the state legislature and encouraged church-sponsored immigration assistance. She mentions such notable Mexican Americans from Texas as Rodolpho 'Corky' Gonzales, José Angel Gutierrez, Ramsey Muñiz, and makes note of Joe Castillo and his work with the Federation for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (FAMA).
Locations of residence or activity:
San Antonio, El Paso