Austin

Gonzalo Barrientos


By Ashley Mastervich

As one of the first Mexican Americans to represent Travis County in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate, Gonzalo Barrientos Jr. was part of the first wave of Latino officials who led the way for minority groups in local, state and national politics. Following the lead of his early role models, men like John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Barrientos devoted his career as public official to challenging the inequalities he witnessed and endured in his youth.

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.

Bob Perkins


By José Andrés Araiza

Bob Perkins spent 36 years as an elected judge in Travis County. Perkins attributes his strong ties to the Mexican-American community as one facet for his worldview; this group was his main base of support and proved to be decisive in his first run for office.

Perkins retired in 2010 from the 331st Criminal District Court, where he presided over numerous high profile cases against prominent elected officials. Perkins hopes his fair administration of these cases sent a message about a system that often favors the affluent.

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.

Harriet Murphy

Raul Alviso Gutierrez

Nestor Rodriguez


By Ben Wermund

In the spring of 1968, Nestor Rodriguez was desperate to get out of his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

Facing social pressure after a broken engagement, the usually straight-A student was failing his fourth semester at Del Mar Junior College when he decided to drop out.

"Life became unbearable in the neighborhood," Rodriguez said. "I decided, you know what, I need to leave."

Juan Carlos Gonzales


By Lindsey Craun

As a child, Juan Carlos Gonzales felt destined to fight for his country. He grew up in a home surrounded by a father and four uncles who were World War II veterans, and he remembered feeling that patriotism and strategic instinct ran in his blood.

Adan Daniel "Dan" Arellano


By Jennifer Monsees

Once a migrant worker, Dan Arellano became a realtor; once a struggling student he turned into an author. Arellano had a way of taking life’s difficult lessons and making the most of them.

The Navy veteran used the discrimination he experienced as a Mexican American to fuel his desire to teach history so that others do not repeat the mistakes.

Fred Castaneda


By Ednna Solis

“For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know,” reads a flier carefully placed in a Vietnam War photo album.

The album belongs to Fred Castañeda, a Mexican citizen from Aguascalientes, Mexico, who served in the United States Army for nearly four years, and as a combat infantryman during Vietnam. Although he was 60 years old at the time of his interview, he had yet to file for American citizenship. He still traveled on a Mexican passport, even though U.S. citizenship was offered to him upon his return from Vietnam.