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

Alma Canales

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(88 pages)

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Alma Gloria Canales was born in 1947 in Rosita, Texas and raised in Edinburg, Texas, graduating from Edinburgh High School in 1965. She attended Pan American University on a journalism scholarship from the "Edinburg Daily Review," and worked as a reporter. In 1969, she worked with the Colorado Migrant Council, and studied in Mexico City through the Colegio Jacinto Trevino. Shortly after her 1972 campaign as the first Mexican American and first woman to run for lieutenant governor of Texas, she married Louis Steven Espinoza, whom she later divorced. She was an active member of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and a Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Minority Mobilization volunteer. She worked with the Southwest Council of La Raza and was an organizer of the Raza Unida Party state headquarters in Austin. She was a member of the League of Women Voters, the Waco Peacemakers' Alliance, and district deputy director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). She organized a bilingual Head Start program in Waco and served as vice president for the Hispanic Women's Network and the Mexican American Democrats of Texas (MAD).

Interview Summary:

Alma Gloria Canales begins with her personal and family background. She recalls her family's trip to the Traverse City, Michigan area as migrant farm workers and notes the race discrimination they encountered when they migrated through West Texas, particularly in Levelland. She shares information about her journalism scholarship to attend Pan American University, being hired by editor Jim Mathis of the 'Edinburg Daily Review' as a reporter, and the controversy over her college editorials regarding the recruitment of African Americans with basketball scholarships. She talks at length about the political tensions following the La Casita Farms strike in Starr County when she was assigned to run the 'Rio Grande Herald' by its new owner, Jim Mathis, and a particular incident involving Joe Bernal and Texas Ranger Captain Alfred Y. Allee. She concludes as to why her boss, Jim Mathis, was not intimidated by threatened litigation into firing her, due to his family connections with Brown and Root, Inc. She provides details of her work for the 'Castro County News' and 'Ya Mero,' the United Farm Workers newspaper, and tells about Senator Edward M. Kennedy's visit to South Texas. She talks about her work with the Colorado Migrant Council and the day care centers she began for Head Start in Wisconsin and in Edinburg. She explains the Colégio Jacinto Trevino program funded by the Zale Foundation and her studies in Mexico City. She describes the women's protest march which led to the 'Pharr Police Riot' and the shooting of bystander Alfonso Loredo Flores. She addresses the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) Conference held in La Lomita and reveals Narciso Alemán's shortcomings as a leader. She mentions the work of Alex Moreno with the Colonias del Valle and of Jesus 'Chuy' Ramirez's with MAYO. She criticizes the Raza Unida Party's statewide thrust for recognition at the cost of local political efforts and blames Ramsey Muñiz and Carlos Guerra for the party's failure. She contrasts her campaign for Lt. Governor of Texas on the Raza Unida Party ticket with that of Ramsey Muñiz's bid for Governor. She relates her involvement in many aspects of the Waco, Texas community and that of her husband, Louis Steven Espinoza, in the local MAYO and Raza Unida Party.

Locations of residence or activity:

Edinburg, Levelland

Interview Date: