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

Mike González


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(98 pages)

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Biography:

Attorney Mike V. González was born in Uvalde, Texas in 1928. He excelled in athletics and was the first Mexican American to achieve the Iron Man title in the South Texas Iron Man competition. In 1946, he graduated high school and signed with the Boston Red Sox baseball team, but was soon drafted into the United States Army where he served in the Counter Intelligence Corps tracking German Nazi war criminals. While in the service, he married a German national but they divorced after he returned to the United States. He attended Howard Payne University in San Angelo, Texas and obtained his law degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio. He and his second wife, Delia Flores Gona´lez, whom he divorced in 1980, ran a law practice in Del Rio, Texas. He pursued numerous civil rights cases across Texas, particularly over school segregation and the school reorganization plan he created for the San Felipe Independent School District was adopted by other Texas school districts undergoing court-ordered desegregation/integration. He was on the board of the Mexican American Democrats of Texas (MAD) and served as executive vice president of American G.I. Forum. He was elected to the Del Rio city council in 1970 and also served as police commissioner. He ran on the Democratic Party ticket for the Texas House of Representatives in 1980, but lost that election.

Interview Summary:

Mike V. González begins with his early life and childhood and shares how he got into sports. He states his stepfather worked on the Anaconda [sic, Anacacha] Ranch near Spofford, Texas and reveals the race discrimination he encountered while growing up in Uvalde. He talks about his athletic ability and praises his high school coach, Orville Ethridge [sic, Etheredge], for encouraging him to excel even though it cost the coach his job, and refers to his sports prowess at Howard Payne University. He provides details of his miltary service as an agent tracking German Nazi war criminals who had escaped to South America for the United States Army Counter Intelligence Corps. He mentions his brief marriage to a German national and explains his decision to leave the military to pursue law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. He discusses his heavy work schedule while attending law school and thanks Dean Ernest A. Raba for finding him work with the law firm of Matt (Mattías William) García. He mentions his exposure to politics during his time at Matt García, and explains his return to Uvalde to practice law. He recalls a demonstration in the Edcouch-Elsa Independent School District, talks about Pete Tijerina and the legal battles they fought before the formation of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and assails the attempts of non-Hispanic lawyers to represent Mexican Americans in early civil rights cases. He remembers being set up and arrested on smuggling charges and credits legendary Texas attorney Warren Burnet [sic, Burnett] for clearing his name. He recounts a demonstration at Lion's Park in Del Rio which became one of his major civil rights cases, and attributes Richard (J.) Clarkson, a researcher in Warren Burnett's office for the success of the case. He speaks briefly of his connections with Ruben Salazar, laments Salazar's death, and describes the Palm Sunday protest march in Del Rio. He rages about being shot and his home being burnt to the ground yet never investigated, and addresses the founding of the Southwest Council of La Raza. He tells of participating in Democratic Party conventions and campaigning for Raza Unida Party candidates. González recalls flying over Dolph Briscoe's ranch with Sissy Farenthold to spot illegal aliens in Briscoe's employ and attributes his own successful election to the Del Rio city council in 1970 to voter registration efforts conducted by the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and the Brown Berets (National Brown Beret Organization). He boasts about garnering financial assistance from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and refers to his participation in the Poor People's Campaign demonstration in Washington, DC. He remarks on the presidential visit to El Paso over the El Chamizal border resolution and assails Dr. Alfredo Gutie´rrez, Jr., mayor of Del Rio, for interfering with his own bid for mayor. González enumerates his contributions as a member of the Del Rio city council and as its police commissioner and criticizes Henry B. Gonzalez. He boasts about the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants he obtained for the city of Del Rio through regional director, Joe Bailey Swanner, and provides details of the projects he funded in the San Felipe and Chihuahua neighborhoods of Del Rio. He refers to his children and former wife, Delia Flores González, and elaborates on the legal battle Ms. González underwent against immigration fraud charges. He gives details of one of many attempted frames plotted by his political enemies but which he foiled, and reiterates how he and his family were often threatened. He describes the Del Rio school system of the 1930s, the creation of the San Felipe Independent School District, and the legal battle involving students from the nearby military base (Laughlin Air Force Base), a court case tried in Tyler, Texas by Judge William Wayne Justice. González explains his rift with the American G.I. Forum and considers his differences with its founder, Dr. Fermin Calderon. He comments on the roles of the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan in South Texas and expresses his beliefs and reasoning for taking on the challenge of his life's work.

Locations of residence or activity:

Del Rio

Interview Date:

1/13/1998