Political Party/527

La Raza Unida

Website:

razaunidaparty.org/

Founded:

1970

Type:

Political Party

Location:

Texas

La Raza Unida was a left-of-center political party in Texas during the 1970s. It was formed to promote civil rights and increase voter turnout for Mexican Americans. [1]

La Raza Unida promoted Mexican-American identity politics and campaigned on increased diversity in school systems, political candidates, and in employment. It also sought to increase infrastructure spending in Hispanic communities. [2] [3]

History

La Raza Unida is a political party that was founded in 1970 in Crystal City, Texas, when the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) staged a walkout over a lack of Mexican American representation on the local school board and city council. [4] It valued Mexican-American identity politics and sought to increase voter turnout among Mexican Americans. [5]

One of La Raza Unida’s cofounders, Maria del Rosario (“Rosie”), Castro has argued that most Hispanic voters in Texas were members of the Democratic Party but were frustrated because they did not feel represented. She claims the Democratic Party failed to address housing, poverty, and education issues within Mexican-American communities of Texas, resulting in the creation of La Raza Unida. [6]

In 1972, La Raza Unida officially formed, filing under “Raza Unida Party” due to Texas’ three-word limit for political parties. It campaigned under a liberal platform, advocating for bilingual education services, infrastructure spending in Hispanic communities, and eliminating practices that prevent Hispanics from voting or being employed. [7]

La Raza Unida had spread to Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico by the 1972 election. However, it was most prominent in Texas, where it received the majority of its support and elected most of its successful candidates. [8]

From 1971 to 1973, La Raza Unida organized 93 chapters in California but only managed to elect one city council and two school board members. Between 1972 and 1976, it had 176 candidates run for state and local offices across the southwest U.S. It was only able to obtain a statewide ticket for Ramsey Muniz in 1972 for Texas governor, losing the race but winning 219,127 votes. [9]

By 1980, La Raza Unida had dissolved. In September 2022 a its 50th anniversary celebration, former leaders called for younger people to revive the party. It currently has a website but no formal organization beyond that. [10] [11]

Socialist Influences and Controversy

There is speculation that La Raza Unida disbanded due to a divide among the party and its socialist members. La Raza Unida cofounder Rosie Castro recalls that the organization did not adopt socialist ideology but embraced free speech, allowing for members to advocate for socialism within the organization. Castro confirmed that this did lead to tension within the party that contributed to it being disbanded. She alleged that informants from the Department of Justice who sought to divide the party were among those advocating for the party to adopt socialism. [12]

Leadership

Rosie Castro is a cofounder of La Raza Unida and teacher from San Antonio, Texas. She is a voter mobilization activist, advocating for voter turnout within the Hispanic community. She has been critical of the Catholic Church for not promoting voter engagement. Her sons are Julian Castro, a former cabinet member in the Obama administration and candidate in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries, and U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX). [13] [14]

Maria L. de Hernandez was a Mexican immigrant, liberal activist, and radio announcer from Texas who was one of the founding members of La Raza Unida. She was the party’s keynote speaker for its statewide conference and was the party chair. [15]

References

  1. Ura, Alexa. “At One Last Reunion, Veterans of La Raza Unida Political Movement Pass along Their Torch.” The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, September 19, 2022. https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/19/la-raza-unida-texas/. ^
  2. Nordyke, David. “La Raza Unida in Texas.” Texas Women’s Foundation. Texas Women’s Foundation, August 20, 2020. https://txwf.org/la-raza-unida-in-texas/. ^
  3. Ura, Alexa. “At One Last Reunion, Veterans of La Raza Unida Political Movement Pass along Their Torch.” The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, September 19, 2022. https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/19/la-raza-unida-texas/. ^
  4. “Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974.” Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974 – Mapping American Social Movements. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://depts.washington.edu/moves/Raza_Unida_map.shtml. ^
  5. Nordyke, David. “La Raza Unida in Texas.” Texas Women’s Foundation. Texas Women’s Foundation, August 20, 2020. https://txwf.org/la-raza-unida-in-texas/. ^
  6. “Tejano Voices.” Tejano Voices | Interviews. University of Texas at Arlington. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://library.uta.edu/tejanovoices/interview.php?cmasno=123. ^
  7. Ura, Alexa. “At One Last Reunion, Veterans of La Raza Unida Political Movement Pass along Their Torch.” The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, September 19, 2022. https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/19/la-raza-unida-texas/. ^
  8. “Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974.” Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974 – Mapping American Social Movements. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://depts.washington.edu/moves/Raza_Unida_map.shtml. ^
  9. “Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974.” Raza Unida Party Chapters 1970-1974 – Mapping American Social Movements. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://depts.washington.edu/moves/Raza_Unida_map.shtml. ^
  10. Ura, Alexa. “At One Last Reunion, Veterans of La Raza Unida Political Movement Pass along Their Torch.” The Texas Tribune. The Texas Tribune, September 19, 2022. https://www.texastribune.org/2022/09/19/la-raza-unida-texas/ ^
  11. “What Is La Raza Unida Party?” La Raza Unida Party. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://razaunidaparty.org/. ^
  12. “Tejano Voices.” Tejano Voices | Interviews. University of Texas at Arlington. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://library.uta.edu/tejanovoices/interview.php?cmasno=123. ^
  13. Nordyke, David. “La Raza Unida in Texas.” Texas Women’s Foundation. Texas Women’s Foundation, August 20, 2020. https://txwf.org/la-raza-unida-in-texas/. ^
  14. “Tejano Voices.” Tejano Voices | Interviews. University of Texas at Arlington. Accessed October 10, 2022. https://library.uta.edu/tejanovoices/interview.php?cmasno=123. ^
  15. Nordyke, David. “La Raza Unida in Texas.” Texas Women’s Foundation. Texas Women’s Foundation, August 20, 2020. https://txwf.org/la-raza-unida-in-texas/. ^
  See an error? Let us know!