United States

Sergio Porras


By Chris Touma

Two years before Sergio Porras received his draft notice to serve in the Vietnam War, he was marching in the streets of Uvalde, Texas, with hundreds of other Mexican-American high school students.

It wasn’t war or the draft they were protesting. The students of Uvalde High were fed up with discrimination in the town’s public school system.

Uvalde, 86 miles southwest of San Antonio, was divided by railroad tracks. Whites lived in the northern section of town; the Hispanics, south of the tracks.

Olga Tobías Charles


By Voces Staff

In the spring of 1970, Olga Charles was a senior at Uvalde High School in South Texas. With just a few weeks before graduation, she was preparing to follow her mother’s career advice: Go to business school and become a bookkeeper, like her Aunt Julia.

José Aguilera


By Brigit Benestante

As a high school student in South Texas, José Aguilera participated in a six-week walkout that was ultimately unsuccessful and resulted in him leaving school. Yet he has no regrets: The experience defined him as someone who would stand up to the discrimination he had witnessed and felt.

“[The walkout] defined me as a person. I am really proud of that,” he wrote to the Voces Oral History Project.

José Antonio Dodier


By Adam Keyrouze

Both his father and his grandfather had served their country proudly during World War I and World War II, respectively. So José Antonio “Tony” Dodier didn't think twice about joining the Army.

Dodier’s first military training came when he was a student at Texas A&M University. A few years later, he was a young Army officer in the jungles of Vietnam, in a war he did not understand but which would leave him wounded, physically and emotionally.

Jorge B. Haynes Jr.


By Katherine Heighway

As a student at the community college in his hometown of Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border, Jorge Haynes Jr. was looking for direction in his life.

“I majored in flag football and in going to Nuevo Laredo to drink beer after 11 o’clock in the morning, so I didn’t do so well,” he said.

His father was pressuring him to go to college, but Haynes wasn’t quite ready. Instead, in January 1967, he enlisted in the Air Force.

Margaret Juárez Gómez


By the Voces staff

Margaret J. Gómez credits her early political awareness to her father. He was a Mexican immigrant with little education, but he closely followed political and world events.

“He read the newspaper from cover to cover every day,” she said. “A lot of times, he knew a lot more about what was going on in the world than I did, so when I got home from work, he would talk to me about what was going on."

Consuelo Mary Hartsell


By the Voces staff

Consuelo Hartsell grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, in the only Latino family in a small town where the neighbors included Scandinavians, Greeks, Japanese and one African-American family. It was not until her last year of high school that a few more Latino families started to move in.

Her parents, Francisco and Carmen Macias, had eloped as teenagers, and moved from Texas and eventually to Wyoming to work in the beet fields. “They were just playing it by ear, I guess,” she said.

Albert Alvarez


By Dylan Nikoletopoulos

Albert Alvarez did not have to make any compromises to become mayor of Pearsall, Texas. He knew exactly why he wanted to do it and had the background and name recognition to help get him elected.

His father, Adolfo Alvarez, had served as Frio County Commissioner for 16 years, and Albert also wanted to represent the people of Pearsall.

“I wanted to be like my dad and follow in his footsteps,” said Alvarez. “Not only in the business world, but as an elected official as well.”

Alberto Lara Rojo


Alberto Lara Rojo heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor the day after it happened.

“We didn’t know about it; we lived on the wrong side of town,” recalled the Mexican-American Navy veteran.

On that Monday, the Sunday attack on the American naval base in Hawaii was the talk of his high school in Marfa, Texas, where he was a freshman. Outside the school, other Mexican-American students told him, "It’s a gringo war. It does not affect us Spanish people."

Lauro Castillo


By the Voces Staff

Lauro Castillo grew up in a poor farming family in South Texas, living in a bare-bones house with a leaky roof.

The U.S. Army provided an escape from poverty but also exposed him to the brutal reality of war. He was an infantryman in some of the toughest battles of World War II.

To Castillo, it was simply a matter of doing his duty for his country.

“I’m proud” of serving, he said. “I fulfilled my obligation to the U.S.”