Listen to the interview
Roland (Rolando) S. Arriola was born in 1948 and raised in Edinburg, Texas. He graduated from Edinburg High School in 1966, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and Junior Historians. He earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Baylor University, was active in the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in Waco, and wrote for the 'Waco Tribune Herald.' He ran for a seat on the Waco City Council in 1975, and won a seat in 1977 which he held until his election as mayor in 1982, but also ran for the Texas Senate in 1980. He developed his own Spanish-language advertising and marketing company during Mark White's gubernatorial campaign and worked for the Texas Department of Community Affairs under Governor White from 1983 to 1985. Thereafter, he completed his Master of Public Administration from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government while he worked for the Massachussetts Department of Commerce under Governor Michael Dukakis. He earned a Master of Public Policy and Administration from Baylor University and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. After returning to Texas from Harvard, he became director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) in South Texas, a position he still held at the time of the interview. In 2008, he retired from his position as Vice President for External Affairs at the University of Texas-Pan American and as national chairman of Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology (HESTEC), and was serving as president of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation.
Roland (Rolando) S. Arriola begins with his family's background and his childhood experiences while attending one of the two segregated Catholic elementary schools in Edinburg, Texas. He conveys his developing interest in writing and journalism and cites the race discrimination he overcame to attend college. He tells about his mentor, Harry Quinn, editor of the 'Edinburgh Daily Review,' and explains how he won a Junior Historian essay contest (sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission). He recalls his feelings of alienation when he arrived in Waco and while attending Baylor University and talks about his early encounters with his future wife's Anglo-American family and their religious choices. He discusses his opportunities to write for the local newspaper, the 'Waco Tribune Herald,' and touches on his work with the Community Action Agency program. He comments on the assistance of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to bring litigation against the schools in Waco to fight for desegration. He describes his cooperation with fellow councilman, African-American Oscar DuConge (who later became mayor of Waco) to win their election to the Waco City Council after a legal battle for single member districts and gives details on his campaign strategies. He speaks of his efforts at unifying the Hispanic population of Waco under the Alliance of Mexican Americans, consisting of three local Hispanic organizations: Sociedad Mutualista de Jornaleros, the Waco Missions, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the federal funding they received. He elaborates on his work with the city council and an investigation of alleged police brutality against a Mexican American. He discusses his election as mayor of Waco and notes his participation in Mark White's campaign for governor of Texas. He shares his struggle to complete his degree at Harvard while working for the state of Massachusetts under Governor Michael Dukakis and remarks on his opportunity to work in South Texas as director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at the University of Texas-Pan American upon his return to Texas. He gives his opinions on immigration and economic issues that effect South Texas, on interracial relations, and on the effectiveness of the Raza Unida Party. He mentions his work on Ramsey Muñiz's campaign for governor and briefly discusses his run for the Texas Senate in 1980.
Locations of residence or activity: