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

Virginia Múzquiz


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(73 pages)

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Biography:

Virginia Múzquiz was born Virginia Aguirre in 1925 in the small South Texas community of Nordheim. Her mother was a migrant agricultural laborer who finally settled the family in La Pryor. Ms. Múzquiz sought work in nearby Crystal City where she met and married her husband, Jesús Múzquiz. In 1964, she was the first Mexican American woman candidate to run for the Texas House of Representative, and in 1965, she was the first Mexican American woman to run for the city council of Crystal City, Texas. She was also the first Mexican American woman to run for Zavala County Clerk, an election race she won in 1974. She served as the national chair for the Raza Unida Party from 1972-1974, and was the first to be honored as 'Chicana of the Year.' She was diagnosed with tuberculosis when she was 17 and, because of it, suffered from chronic illness. She died in 2002.

Interview Summary:

Virginia Múzquiz begins with her personal and family background and that of her husband, Jesus Múzquiz. She tells about her limited basic education because she was a poor migrant farm worker, and reveals that during her long convalescence with tuberculosis beginning at age 17, she began studying English and other subjects. She discusses politics in Crystal City, Texas and her part in Juan Cornejo's election to city council (and selection as mayor) and Josés to Cornejo's affiliation with the Teamsters union and their role in organizing the United Farm Workers. She points to the work she and other Mexican American women did to register voters, pay poll taxes, and help with absentee voting, and refers to the 'Sentinela' newspaper [actually the 'Zavala County Sentinel'] in furthering their cause. She details her run for the Texas House of Representatives in 1964, notes the encouragement she received from the Political Association of Spanish-speaking Organizations (PASSO) to run for city council in Crystal City in 1965, and emphasizes her husband, a business entrepreneur, bore the cost of her campaign. She talks about the women's march in Del Rio with Enriqueta Palacios and Elvirita de la Fuente and tells about the student walk out from Crystal City High School (under the Crystal City Independent School District) to protest the race discrimination in the schools in 1969. She expounds on her thorough efforts at studying election code and serving as a poll-watcher in order to eliminate oppressive practices and voter intimidation. She explains her bid for County Clerk in Zavala County as a means to further political opportunities for the Mexican American population. She describes the efforts of Mexican American women within the Raza Unida Party and the women's trip to Fidel Castro's Cuba. She notes the power of the Barrio Club, considers her greatest triumph as County Clerk, and notes other mexican American women who have pressed for city council election in Crystal City. She Josés to Ross Perot and the effects of a third political party in American politics and debates the difficulties of unifying the Hispanic people due to the pull of the Democratic Party. She comments on a number of Hispanic baseball players and such prominent Mexican American politicians as Henry Cisneros, Albert Bustamante, failed Texas gubanatorial candidate Ramsey Muñiz, and Chicano movement activist Severita Lara. She speaks highly of Chicano movement activist Martha Cotera and explores Kay Bailey Hutchison's attitudes toward Mexican Americans.

Locations of residence or activity:

Crystal City

Interview Date:

9/24/1996