Austin

Noe Espindola


By Megan Breckenridge

Growing up in an artistic family that moved between the United States and Mexico, Noe Espindola was immersed in two cultures and languages. In time, however, he was given the opportunity to serve his native country -- the United States -- during World War II.

Espindola was born June 27, 1926, in Austin, Texas, one of four children of professional musician Ranulfo Espindola and Maria de Jesús Arias, both natives of Mexico.

Richard Armand Moya


By Alsha Khan

In the late 1960s, Richard Moya, an investigator with Legal Aid, was having lunch with two of his best friends - who also worked in anti-poverty programs - at Johnny Boy's Hamburgers. The topic: how tough it was to help their clientele.

Over hamburgers, fries and Dr Peppers at Johnny Boy's, the three of them talked about their frustrations, how to get the bureaucracy to hear the voices of the little guy.

"You know the only way we're gonna help all the people we want to help is we have to get on the other side of the table," someone remarked.

Lencho Hernandez


By Paige More

Retired labor organizer Lawrence "Lencho" Hernandez is still haunted by his elementary school principal's big green disciplinary paddle. That paddle would snap him in a direction that he would later regret.

"I had straight As in school. I had the highest GPA out of all of the students," Hernandez said. "But I could never please [him]."

James Ramirez


By Britini Shaw

James Ramirez remembers a time when Mexican- American communities held dances to pay for the poll tax in Austin. He would ask himself, "Why do people have to pay to vote when it's their constitutional right?"

By the time he was eligible to vote, at age 21, the federal government had outlawed the poll tax. But Ramirez saw that Mexican- American faced other hurdles when it came to voting and political participation. He dedicated his life to getting his community involved in campaigns to exercise their rights.

Rosalio Rabbit Duran


By Katy Lutz

Rabbit's Lounge was a dimly-lit, tiny bar that boycotted Budweiser while serving up some of the coldest beer in Austin, Texas. It might have seemed a very unlikely candidate for the Austin hub of Chicano politics in the early 1970s - if one hadn't also met its indefatigable owner, Rosalio "Rabbit" Duran.

Duran was born to diehard Democrats, Ezequiel Duran and Eva Gonzalez Duran, on May 18, 1933, in Austin. As an adolescent, Duran gained his nickname "Rabbit" because of his incomparable running speed in youth sports.

Pete Castillo


By Lynda Gonzalez

Pedro “Pete” Castillo used his snow-white mustache as a tool in telling his wartime tale, one of the significant chapters of his life.

A sergeant and World War II veteran was in charge of Castillo’s Army company during the Korean War, and he demanded Castillo and his Latino friend shave off their mustaches because, he said, the Army did not like facial hair, Castillo recalled.

Joe Vargas


By Eva Hernandez

The air is rife with the sounds of men preparing for battle on the front lines. This is the real deal, and Private Joe Vargas is ready. He lumbers off the back of the Army truck – just barely – and moves forward.

Two bandoliers of M1 clips are strapped to his chest and he is armed with as many grenades as he can carry. The first lieutenant meets him with a critical eye.

Roberto Guerra


By Lizette Romero

Roberto Guerra had a deep pride: pride in his military service in World War II; of his unit, which distinguished itself in Europe; of the many medals he earned for his actions; and of the woman who saw beyond his injuries, took him as a husband and raised their six children.

Felix R. Soto Jr.


By Tim Garlitz

To see the world, not to mention to avoid getting drafted into the Army, Felix Soto Jr. quickly signed up for the Coast Guard upon graduating from high school in June of 1942.

Three out of Soto’s four brothers soon followed his lead by enlisting in the Navy. (His youngest brother, Mario, was ineligible for service because of his young age.)

Moses Aleman


By Cheryl Smith Kemp

When Moses “Moe” Alemán’s parents emigrated from Mexico to Austin, Texas, as children, the horse and buggy was one of the most common modes of transportation and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was a bunch of farmland.

That’s where Arturo Alemán and Antonia Garza first met, in the community encompassing the fields in which their parents both labored.