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

Olga Gallegos

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(33 pages)

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Olga Gallegos was born Olga Ramírez in the Houston, Texas neighborhood of Magnolia Park in 1926. She was the first Mexican American woman to serve as president of the board of trustees for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and has served as a delegate for the Democratic Party in Texas. At the time of the interview, she was still a member of the HISD board of trustees and a member of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Interview Summary:

Olga Gallegos begins by describing her work on the board of trustees for the Houston Independent School District (HISD). She discusses the problems of the bilingual education program, from the failure of the certification program to the difficulty in recruiting qualified candidates for teaching positions. She refers to new board members Gabriel Vásquez and Jeff Shadwick who were selected to review the bilingual program and notes the efforts of board president Laurie Bricker to lead the board to adopt a program to accelerate the learning of English rather than teaching in the student's first language. She assails African American board member Rod Paige for lack of support on the bilingual issue and talks about the Gulftown Area Neighborhood Association, a group of Hispanic immigrants addressing problems in their neighborhoods. She recalls her father's role in organizing the local League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 60 and his role in selling poll tax certificates to involve Mexican Americans in politics. She describes learning about the election process for Democratic Party convention delegates in her neighborhood, becoming a candidate for election under the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), and winning election as precinct chair. She recalls Felix Strata and her husband, Mario Gallegos, giving fire prevention tips on KLVL, the only Hispanic radio station in Houston at the time. She mentions working on the election campaigns of prominent Mexican Americans Lauro Cruz, Ben T. Reyes, Roman Martínez and Al Luna.

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