Mexican tapestery pattern

Search Interviews:


Learn More:

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

Richard Moya

Read Transcript

(106 pages)

Listen to the interview


Richard Moya was born in Austin, Texas in 1932 and graduated from Austin High School in 1950. He was president of the national Junior League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), served in the National Guard, and was a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army in Korea. He helped form the Mexican American Democrats of Texas, served as their chair from 1981-1983, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972. He was the first Mexican-American elected to the Travis County Commissioners' Court and served in that capacity from 1970 to 1986. He was director of Field Operations for Texas Agricultural Commissioner Jim Hightower before he served as Deputy Chief of Staff under Governor Ann Richards from 1991 to 1995. At the time of the interview, he was a member of the Tejano Democrats, and in 2009, he was a public affairs consultant with Adelánte Solutions Consortium.

Interview Summary:

Richard Moya begins with his family background and the predominantly Mexican American neighborhood centered around Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and the Austex Chili canning factory (now a brand of Castleberry Food Company). He explains the church's move to east Austin and the growth of the Mexican American neighborhood of La Buena Vista. He assails the racial segregation within the Austin Independent School District (AISD) and relates his mother's battle with AISD for admission to the "Anglo" school. He talks about the family's business ventures and defines the boundaries of Austin's African American and Mexican American neighborhoods. He reveals his personal experiences with race discrimination and discusses the alternative newspaper he and his friends published with the help of Raul Guerrero. He shares his enthusiasm for the Junior League of United Latin American Citizens Council which he formed with fellow students and its spinoff organization, the Century Club. He notes his election as National Director of Youth Activities for LULAC and recounts an incident he and Felix Tijerina endured during a LULAC convention in Lubbock, Texas. He recalls his service with the National Guard, his enlistment in the U.S. Army, and his service in Korea. He talks about his career as a printer, working for a union shop, and conveys his excitement at becoming chief investigator for the Legal Aid and Defender Society of Travis County with the assistance of John Treviño. He comments on the redrawing of Travis County district boundaries and the reactions of incumbent County Commissioner Lawson Boothe, whom he defeated in 1970, attributing the support of striking workers of the Economy Furniture Company (Economy Furniture Industries liquidated in 2003) and residents of the Govalle neighborhood for his victory. He talks at length about his role as County Commissioner, his sucess at increasing minority hiring through Affirmative Action, and his hiring practices as Travis County Commissioner, but blames his county election loss in 1986 on opposition from environmentalists. He discusses his introduction of a program in Montopolis (fully annexed in the 1970s by the city of Austin) to combat teenage drug abuse, praises County Judge Mike Renfro who took the bench in 1974, and exposes a racist incident involving Commissioner of Agriculture Bo Brown. He elaborates on the formation of the Mexican American Democrats of Texas (MAD) and their choice of Joe Bernal as their president, and discusses his association with Gonzalo Barrientos. Moya speaks of his selection as a delegate for George S. McGovern at the 1972 Democratic National Convention and his stint as MAD chairman from 1981 to 1983. He talks about his brief career as a Bastrop real estate developer during the massive savings and loan failures across Texas and his role as Director of Field Operations for Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Hightower. He speaks at length about accompanying Governor Richards to South Texas as one of her three Deputy Chiefs of Staff, along with Carl Ritchie and Joe Anderson, and recounts the split within MAD that led to the creation of the Tejano Democrats. He gives his opinions on a number of prominent Mexican Americans including Dan Morales, Juan Maldonado, Henry B. Gonzalez, Tony Sanchez, and Victor Morales.

Locations of residence or activity:


Interview Date: