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

Gus Ramírez

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(39 pages)

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Born Gustavo Ramírez in Tyler, Texas in 1953, Gustavo 'Gus' Ramírez was raised in Tyler and graduated from Chapel Hill High School in 1971. He married in 1978 and earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Tyler. A member of the Republican Party, he served on the City Council of Tyler, the first Hispanic elected to do so in Tyler, prior to his election as County Commissioner. At the time of the interview, Mr. Ramírez was serving his second term as County Commissioner for Smith County, Texas.

Interview Summary:

Gustavo 'Gus' Ramírez comments on the issues facing Hispanics in East Texas and discusses the Community Development Block Grant that funded the construction of the East Texas Hispanic Center. He refers to the support received from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the examination of underreported Hispanics in Smith County in the 2000 U.S. Census. He discusses the African American community's efforts at bringing single-member districts to Tyler through their group, Tyler Organization of Men (TOM) in 1975, and mentions African American County Commissioner Andrew Melontree. He shares the struggles his father, Gilbert Ramírez, had when first coming to the United States in the 1920s, in 1939 when he worked in Dallas for El Fenix restaurants, and then in 1952 when he started his own restaurant in Tyler. Mr. Ramírez provides details of his campaigns for Tyler city council against incumbent Jerry Shanburger and laments the county's past decisions leading to the loss of the historic Smith County Courthouse. He addresses the problems facing city and county governments and states his opinion on the Texas Association of Counties. He cites the location of the family business between Camp Fannin and Kilgore during an oil boom as contributing to its success. He recalls working in the family restaurant and as a disk jockey for a local Hispanic radio station. He reveals his views on bilingual education and notes the assistance of David Harwood and his father-in-law, Bradley Davidson, in his election campaigns. He mentions prominent Mexican American poliltician Henry Cisneros and refers to Tyler's Lebanese-American mayor Kevin Eltife.

Locations of residence or activity:

East Texas?

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