Discrimination

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.”

Modesto Arriaga


By Faith Daniel

Modesto Arriaga was playing baseball with his church team, the Rosenberg Lions, when a police car pulled up and asked for one of his teammates to go with them. Later, the other boys would learn that the ballplayer’s older brother had drowned in the Brazos River, where he had been swimming.

“So the Father of the church asked me, ‘Why are the kids drowning in the river?’ And I told him, 'Because they didn’t let us into the swimming pool,'” Arriaga said. “He said, ‘You know what? Tomorrow, we’re going to see why they don’t let you in.’”

Iris Galvan


By Rebecca Chavoya

An old Hispanic man pushed a tamale cart down the streets of Rosenberg, Texas, in 1974. Iris Galvan, 18-year-old high school student and member of Juventud Unida, approached him with a warm, welcoming demeanor.

“Have you ever thought about voting?” she said. “You have a right to vote. You are a citizen of this country.” 

The man shrugged off her suggestion, saying that he knew his voice didn’t matter. “I don’t speak very good English,” he said.

Felicita Munguia Arriaga


By Hope Teel

In 1959, Felicita Munguia Arriaga was a 12-year-old accompanying her mother to the polls, where the older woman planned to cast her vote for a man named Joe Hubenak.

Very few Hispanics were voting during that time for various reasons, including fear and illiteracy, but because she worked for Hubenak and his wife, Jesusa Munguia and her husband had agreed to go vote for him.

Louis Joseph Lopez


By the Voces Staff

Louis Lopez had a distinguished 29-year career as a police office in Denver. Long before community policing was a widely adopted practice, he focused on establishing good relationships with the minority communities where he worked, to defuse tensions with a department that was mostly Anglo and sometimes hostile.

He faced bigotry from some of his colleagues but never let it slow him down.

Ernestine Mojica Kidder


By Haley Dawson

Ernestine Mojica Kidder vividly recalls one of her earliest memories as a young child in Taylor, Texas. Her father lifted her into his arms and pointed to a schoolhouse in the distance. “That’s where you’re going to school as soon as you’re old enough,” she remembers him saying. “When you’re 6, you’re gonna go to school.”

A child of the World War II era and a woman of the Civil Rights era, MojicaKidder was among the first Hispanic women for whom a higher education became both a possibility and a reality.

Charley Gonzales Kidder


By Natasha Verma

“Two years, 11 months and 21 days,” World War II veteran Charley Gonzales Kidder said with a smile. “That’s exactly how long I served.”

At 18 years of age, Gonzales Kidder was proud and honored that his country gave him the opportunity to serve during a time of strife. At the time of his interview, he was 85 and his feelings had not changed.

"I got to see a lot of the world and meet a lot of fine people,” Gonzales Kidder said. “I’m very proud of the service I helped render.”

Antonio Jasso


By Sarah Culler

Antonio Jasso wanted to make sure no one considered him a war hero.

“I didn’t see no war … I’m not gonna take credit or say that I saw action. I didn’t. I was, thanks to God, a cook in the Navy. I had it made in the Navy,” Jasso said as he shared stories about his years in the service.

Jasso, a native of El Paso, Texas, moved to Kansas to work, joined the Navy, and later moved back to Kansas where he lived at the time of his interview.

Juan Martinez


By Meredith Barnhill

Juan Martinez, Jr. is the embodiment of the patriotism Mexican Americans demonstrated during his time in the Army.

Born Nov. 20, 1922, in El Paso, Texas, to Juan Martinez, Sr. and Sebastiana Valdez Martinez, he grew up speaking both Spanish and English. Though both of his parents were from Mexico, he identifies himself as “American,” not “Mexican-American.”

Martinez was the third of five children and the only boy. The entire clan practiced Catholicism and attended church at least once a week at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in El Paso.

Lupe Uresti


By Shelby Custer

In December of 1975, Guadalupe Arredondo Uresti, a 31-year-old homemaker, spoke at a kick-off rally for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project in the old Civic Center of Rosenberg, southwest of Houston.

Uresti, who also devoted time to working in her father's furniture business, remembered exhorting her Mexican American neighbors to register and to vote - to make their voices and needs heard. Even though she trembled with nervousness, she made an impression.