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From political matriarch Rosie Castro, the sons also rise [pull out your crying towel]
San Antonio-Express News ^ | September 30, 2012 | Josh Baugh

Posted on 09/30/2012 3:09:07 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

The Castros, Julián, Rosie and Joaquín, pose for a portrait on Sunday, April 23, 2006. Photo: Helen L. Montoya, San Antonio Express-News / SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

The segregated barrios of the city's West Side a half-century ago were an unlikely inspiration for Maria del Rosario Castro, the daughter of an orphaned Mexican immigrant who as a girl picked ticks from white families' cocker spaniels.

She grew into a firebrand, the matriarch of a new political generation, from the broken streets of her youth that flooded when it rained.

The neighborhood starkly contrasted the picturesque Alamo Heights homes that her mother cleaned while “Rosie” tended to the dogs in the backyard.

Her neighbors lacked decent city services and a strong voice to say so. Blacks and Hispanics were missing from the clergy and the classrooms, from white-collar jobs and from City Hall.

In her growing awareness, Rosie noticed a dearth of politicians willing to advocate for the causes of her community.

“Very early on,” she said, “I just had to ask, ‘Why?'”

Empowered by an era of social change, she joined a then-“radical” political movement that would make her an unsuspecting lightning rod in the 2012 political landscape, where her twin sons, Mayor Julián Castro and state Rep. Joaquín Castro, are now charting their own path.

“We believed in trying to make a difference by getting involved politically,” Rosie, 65, said of her work with La Raza Unida, a third political party born of racial tensions in 1970s Southwest Texas, and of her City Council bid with a slate of candidates backed by the Committee for Barrio Betterment. She registered voters, identified candidates, block walked, ran campaigns and served as La Raza's Bexar County chairwoman.

“That wasn't radical — that was the promise of America,” she said.

She helped secure that promise for her sons, who after earning degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Law School were elected to the City Council and the Texas House of Representatives. Julián is a campaign co-chair for President Barack Obama's re-election bid, and Joaquín is expected to win a congressional seat this November. He introduced the mayor as the keynote speaker at this year's Democratic National Convention — a history-making moment for Latinos and one that wasn't possible for their parents: Rosie, a Palo Alto College administrator, and Jesse Guzman, a retired high school math teacher.

The couple's story is interwoven with the Chicano struggle of their generation.

Rosie advocated for better education, for voter registration, for political representation and for better city services on the West Side. Jesse was the head of Colegio Jacinto Treviño, a Chicano college in San Antonio and in the Rio Grande Valley. He also was active in the Committee For Barrio Betterment and locally helped manage Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA.

Their paths crossed as both organized in the community.

“We were soul mates in a lot of ways because we were both in the movement,” Rosie said. “We had a lot in common — the struggles of our people, the idea of self-determination.”

Jesse already was married with five children when he moved in with Rosie and her mother before the twins were born. Never married, the two separated when the boys were 8. Their sons, now 38, have their mother's last name.

The mayor recognized “my father and my stepmother,” Jesse's second wife, for their support during a sendoff, ahead of the DNC in early September.

But it's their outspoken mother who has made them a target for critics. Rosie has been criticized for her involvement in La Raza Unida, and for her unsympathetic comments about the Alamo, born from a lifetime of being told mexicanos were “losers,” she says.

“We have a different perspective on it,” Julián explained. “I consider the Alamo a very special part of Texas history, and I'm glad that things worked out the way they did.” It reflects a generational difference, he said.

Political roots

The Chicano movement was born in the early 1960s, while Rosie attended the Catholic Little Flower High School.

San Antonio was for Latinos what Atlanta, Selma and Birmingham were for blacks, said Char Miller, a former Trinity University urban studies professor who's now director of the environmental analysis program at Pomona College in California.

“Like Atlanta, it had a lot of very engaged folks who understood that their long-term oppression in San Antonio — economic, educational, class and ethnicity — could only be broken if they were the active agents of change,” he said. “So what we're looking at is the civil rights movement for the Hispanic population of the United States, largely moving out of San Antonio.”

Rosie did more than just stand witness to the plight.

“I admire and respect Rosie for the activist positions she took at a time when things needed to be said, and positions needed to be taken because the levels of discrimination and injustice and unfairness were so blatant,” said former Mayor Henry Cisneros, a childhood classmate of hers. “One could go through the history of the West Side ... it's just case after case of gross unfairness that could only be addressed by people standing up.”

Her sons and other contemporary Latino politicians recognize their successes are predicated on the work of Rosie and others from the movement.

“Julián and I personally, and our generation, have benefited from the kind of work that they did,” Joaquín said. “San Antonio and the country have progressed incredibly since then, and we're all beneficiaries of that.”

Rosie's activism was a long time coming. She'd been an organizer in one way or another for most of her life.

She was born in 1947 to a single mother, Victoria Castro, who worked as a “maid, a cook and a babysitter,” Julián said.

Rosie often stayed home while her mother worked. She created a world inside her fenced yard, organizing play time with the neighborhood children.

Later, she helped organize a youth club to expand the reach of her high school class, which only numbered 26.

“The high school experience of the youth club was an incredible experience because it was the first time that I had to get up in front of large groups and make speeches, and talk about what we wanted to do, what we should do, all of these kind of things beyond just the dances,” she said.

At what was then Our Lady of the Lake College, Rosie wanted to establish a chapter of the Young Democrats, but college rules required that there be a chapter of Young Republicans as well. The minimum size was 10 students each. So she organized — for both groups.

“We got them the bare minimum,” she said. “We had quite a few more for the Young Democrats.”

In college, her political involvement grew.

“What I have always understood is that if you want to make a difference in this country ... You elect representatives who will create the policy that you feel needs to happen,” she said. Her college mentor, Margaret Kramer, introduced Rosie to progressive Democratic politicians, including Henry B. Gonzalez, Pete Torres, Albert Peña and Joe Bernal. On Fridays, the politicians and other factions — labor leaders, such as Henry “The Fox” Muñoz — would gather at Karam's restaurant.

“It was heady stuff. It was an incredible learning (experience) for me,” Rosie said.

Henry Muñoz III, son of “The Fox” and board chairman of VIA Metropolitan Transit, recalls his parents discussing Rosie as she was rising in the Chicano movement.

It was a “generational moment that wasn't completely smooth, but she stood out and was completely respected and strong,” Muñoz said.

Meeting Guzman

Rosie got to know the local politicos and other activists, including Jesse Guzman, as the young Democrats worked campaigns and immersed themselves in politics. “Really, that's where I cut my teeth on how to do door-to-door block walking,” she said. “They used to call us the bumper sticker queens.”

Seven years older than Rosie, Jesse also had grown up on the West Side. And like her, he remembers abhorrent conditions there. He had to walk about 10 blocks to the bus stop and struggled to keep his ROTC uniform clean because “the street was like soup, maybe an inch deep in mud,” he said.

“That's a pretty good incentive to try to change things.”

In a chapter scheduled to be published in a book about “ecological democracy,” Miller, the professor, chronicles the long history of West Side flooding. It was a problem exacerbated by inaction by the city, which worked to protect other parts of town.

After the infamous flood of 1921, “the greatest in the city's history,” San Antonio's newspapers called for controlling storm waters, Miller wrote.

But the city spent millions to protect the central business district while largely ignoring the destructive and deadly West Side flooding.

“What was built was the Olmos Dam, which did not a damn thing for the West Side, and the only thing the West Side received was some brush clearance in the ditches,” Miller said in an interview. “That's the kind of oppressive nature of this city, in which it basically defended white interests and paid no attention to brown.”

San Antonio at the time elected council members at-large, which often left the West Side without a voice on the City Council.

Rosie set out to bring equal representation to the council. She and Guzman helped run a slate of candidates in 1969 backed by the Committee for Barrio Betterment. Two years later, in '71, she ran on a four-candidate slate backed by the committee and La Raza. Their campaign poster hangs in Mayor Castro's City Hall office.

David Montejano, a University of California-Berkeley ethnic studies professor who grew up on the West Side and knew Rosie, said the activists had realized organizing high school students and picketing wasn't enough. They needed to take the fight to City Hall and beyond. He's chronicled the era in a book called “Quixote's Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement, 1966-1981.”

Women played a significant role in that period generally — and the '69 race, he said. Two years later, they demanded to run. “They were the first Chicanas, as far as I know, to run for City Council election,” Montejano said.

Spawning change

Luis Fraga, a political scientist at the University of Washington who directed the Castro brothers' undergraduate theses at Stanford, said the political movements in South Texas — including the founding of La Raza Unida Party — were the greatest expressions of seeking social change.

“The tag that this particular effort was ‘radical' is a bit of a misnomer in that the idea through elections and through political parties, you could effect social change is about as mainstream as you can get,” Fraga said.

After the council losses in '69 and '71, Rosie and others pivoted to La Raza and finding candidates to run for statewide offices. She served as the party's director in Bexar County.

In 1974, she refocused her efforts to raise her twins. Born a minute apart on Sept. 16, 1974, Julián and Joaquín would be named Castro, she said, as she was — and her mother before her.

Julián said his father focused on his work as a mathematics teacher in the Edgewood school district.

They see each other regularly. Julián lives a couple blocks away, and Joaquín took Jesse on a winding 18-day road trip this summer to Washington, D.C., and back, interspersed with some sightseeing. While Jesse continued to see his boys as they were growing up, it's clear Rosie was their foundation. When Julián, now in his second term as mayor, presented the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention earlier this month, he thanked his mother, his grandmother, and his wife Erica, also a teacher.

He told the nation about “the unlikely journey” that brought him to that stage. The opportunities afforded to him were because of the hard work and sacrifices of Rosie and Victoria, he said.

Muñoz sees the progression, a torch handed from mother to sons. The new political era — and the rise of the Latino population across the country — demands a Latino voice, he said.

“In the same way she attempted to give voice to Chicanos in South Texas, her sons are now in the position to give voice to Latinos living in the United States,” he said.

In his keynote address, Julián captured the journey that goes back generations for his family.

“In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don't always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor,” he said.

“My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people's houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.”

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: democraticparty; joaquincastro; juliancastro; progressive
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The Castro brothers are prominent on the small Democratic Party bench featuring up and coming progressive leadership.
1 posted on 09/30/2012 3:09:21 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All

Note parallels to Obama:

Single mother - activist, influential radical mentors, “best” education, affable.....

2 posted on 09/30/2012 3:54:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Progressive = Communist.

3 posted on 09/30/2012 3:59:07 AM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (If you like lying Socialist dirtbags, you'll love Slick Willard)
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To: fieldmarshaldj

Indeed it do.

4 posted on 09/30/2012 4:00:42 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

>>>Single mother - activist, influential radical mentors, “best” education, affable.....>>>

Ah, three generations of children named after the mother! Says a lot about the good old way of American households./s

5 posted on 09/30/2012 4:07:00 AM PDT by kitkat
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
"Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada"
6 posted on 09/30/2012 4:15:46 AM PDT by Godebert (No Person Except a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

“Knowledge will degenerate into a riot of subjective visions and Justice will be replaced by Pity as the cardinal human virtue, and all fear of retribution will vanish and The New Aristocracy will consist exclusively of hermits, bums and permanent invalids. The Rough Diamond, the Consumptive Whore, the bandit who is good to his mother, the epileptic girl who has a way with animals will be the heroes and heroines of the New Age, when the general, the statesman, and the philosopher have become the butt of every farce and satire.” From W. H. Auden’s “For the Time Being,” a prophetic poem from a half century-ago (1944).

7 posted on 09/30/2012 4:30:28 AM PDT by Dr. Pritchett
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Who knows, when people in TX decide they have enough Bushes, Perrys, Cornyns, etc, they may well embrace a Castro or two.

8 posted on 09/30/2012 4:53:18 AM PDT by Theodore R. ( Who among us has not erred? Akin's the One!)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Theodore R.

The story starts off with a lie. Having lived in San Antonio and owned dogs, there aren’t enough ticks to make it anyone’s job. I pretty much stopped reading the BS right there.

10 posted on 09/30/2012 5:01:38 AM PDT by Edison (I don't know what irks me more, the lying or the incompetence.)
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To: Theodore R.

Um, No

11 posted on 09/30/2012 5:02:44 AM PDT by CPT Clay (Follow me on Twitter @Clay N TX)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

With the rise of Marco Rubio, it is no surprise that the dems are promoting the “Castro Brothers” as a response. Its no coincidence that they are where they are now.

12 posted on 09/30/2012 5:45:35 AM PDT by FreeManWhoCan ( (o) (o))
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Three more reasons to seal our borders,expel *all* wetbacks (black,brown,yellow *and* white) and change this “automatic citizenship at birth” bullshite as has every other civilized nation on earth.
13 posted on 09/30/2012 6:04:49 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Ambassador Stevens Is Dead And The Chevy Volt Is Alive!)
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To: Edison

“white families dogs”...that’s where I stopped...Mexicans are descended from white Europeans

14 posted on 09/30/2012 6:16:29 AM PDT by representativerepublic (...loose lips, sink ships)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

The brothers are so proud of their heritage that they don’t speak Spanish

15 posted on 09/30/2012 6:18:35 AM PDT by representativerepublic (...loose lips, sink ships)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
the daughter of an orphaned Mexican immigrant who as a girl picked ticks from white families' cocker spaniels.

LOL! Ok, I'm not going any farther than this. What, a pant load! What did she stand on a street corner with a sign that read "Will pull ticks off white families' cocker spaniels for food"?

16 posted on 09/30/2012 6:33:47 AM PDT by VeniVidiVici (Congrats to Ted Kennedy! He's been sober for two years now!!)
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To: Dr. Pritchett

Great quote.

17 posted on 09/30/2012 6:53:25 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: FreeManWhoCan
With the rise of Marco Rubio,....

And soon to be U.S. Senator Ted Cruz [R] Texas!

18 posted on 09/30/2012 6:55:41 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: VeniVidiVici


I do believe the Left is desperately trying to morph radical, mama Rosie [I hate the Alamo] Castro into a Chicano version of Rosa Parks.

19 posted on 09/30/2012 7:00:32 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

One thing for certain is that...

The mother and sons, will continue the characterization of their constituencies as victims, with the likelihood that, most of the people they are purportedly hoping to help, will remain in poverty or become even poorer, and many in the middle-class who fall under their grip, will also suffer and become part of the victim constituency.

The problem with many leaders who grow out of the “victimized” class, is that, they can’t seem to understand that, most of the victimization was caused by those who need those victims to continue voting for them. Thus, mother and sons will continue creating victims, and the vicious cycle will repeat endlessly.

20 posted on 09/30/2012 7:51:33 AM PDT by adorno
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