#2 The Radical Upbringing of Julián and Joaquín Castro

Twin brothers Julián and Joaquín Castro are part of the Democratic National Committee’s bench for future national elections.

Julián is the former Mayor of San Antonio, President Obama’s HUD Secretary during his final two and a half years, and was close to being named Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016. Joaquín will be seeking a fourth term in 2018 as the U.S. Congressman from Texas’ 20th district.

The Castro twins are somewhat of a political legacy. Their mother, Rosie Castro, was entrenched in the Raza Unida Party during the 1970s, and failed in an attempt to win a San Antonio City Council seat in 1971.

Joaquín has stated that his mother “is probably the biggest reason that my brother and I are in public service. Growing up, she would take us to a lot of rallies and organizational meetings and other things that are very boring for an 8-, 9-, 10-year-old. What I did get from my mother was a very strong sense that if you did public policy right, and you did well in public service, that it’s a positive influence on people’s lives.”

What has been kept quiet for a number of years is that Rosie Castro is a political radical. Details below.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rosie Castro discussed in a 1996 interview how her “resentfulness” over her mother’s time as a maid, “colored the way (she has) thought of Anglo Americans”
  • In the same 1996 interview, Castro details how she will “never (work) for another male again.” She acknowledges softening on this stance since she, “(hopes) that (her) sons will run someday”
  • Castro was a member of a San Antonio committee that sought the release of Angela Davis in connection with the Marin County courthouse shooting. The committee lauded Davis numerous times for her Communist ties.

Oral History Interview with Rosie Castro, 1996.

Interviewee: Rosie Castro (Mother of Julian and Joaquin Castro)

Interviewer: José Angel Gutiérrez, Ph.D., J.D.

Site: San Antonio Housing Authority

Transcribers: Karen McGee and José Angel Gutiérrez

Date of Interview: July 1, 1996

TEXT: http://library.uta.edu/tejanovoices/xml/CMAS_123.xml
AUDIO: http://library.uta.edu/tejanovoices/interview.php?cmasno=123

Rosie Castro:
[My] mother went to school up until about the fourth grade and she always told a story that was really interesting to me. And the reason she left fourth grade was that apparently some people felt that she had stolen things, some rosaries or something, and so she was pulled out of school and then she never, basically, went back. But, my mother, despite the fact that she went only to fourth grade, could read and write both Spanish and English. I mean, she was literally self taught, but she wound up, you know, being a maid. And, as you can imagine, probably another reason that I was interested in social justice issues was because she earned so little as a maid. We are talking about sometimes bringing home eight dollars a day for your whole days work and she did a lot of work in Alamo Heights and that area.

Dr. José Angel Gutiérrez:
Do you remember all of that?

Ms. Castro:
Oh, I remember going with her, yes.

Dr. Gutiérrez:
To help her or just to baby-sit you or…?

Ms. Castro:
Well, it started off to baby-sit. I mean, she didn’t have any child care arrangements, so, you know, it wasn’t the time where you thought about child care. So, I would go with her on the bus. That was the other thing. We took about three busses to get there. It was always a long trip for me. But in one particular place that she worked for, I can remember that, what they would have me do is pull the ticks off the dogs. I would be, you know, and later, when I thought about it, I thought, well you know, the thing with that is what if the ticks had some kind of disease. I mean, nobody thought about those things then. But that was my role. I have to say I was not always very well behaved. If you kept me stored with books, you know, I would do all right., But sometimes, they lived on a, this particular family lived like on a little hill. Their garage and their driveway was built on a little hill that overlooked some kind of main street. So one of the things I used to like to do is get rocks and throw them onto the cars down there. Now, when I think about it, you know, there is like, we had an incident in San Antonio where somebody really got hurt by kids doing that. But I can remember that was one of my first very evil things to do until they would catch me.

Dr. Gutiérrez:
Do you remember where that was?

Ms. Castro:
No, I know it was in Oh Nine, Alamo Heights, but I don’t remember exactly what street.

Dr. Gutiérrez:
Did you say Oh Nine?

Ms. Castro:
Yeah. That was what they called it around here.

Dr. Gutiérrez:
What is that?

Ms. Castro:
Alamo Heights. Oh Nine [09] is the zip code for Alamo Heights.

Dr. Gutiérrez:
Oh, OK.

Ms. Castro:
Yeah, and everybody here refers to Oh Nine. Anyway, I think that helped formulate those, you know always going with my mom. My mom was never home on holidays because she had to work. Like, I can remember Christmases and New Years where she worked for these families. They were having parties all the time. I think, I can remember a lot of resentfulness about that time in that she worked for a group of sisters. And one of them would call and say to me, I remember, late in the evening, “Is your mother home?” And I would say, “No, she is not home yet.” You now, she would get home pretty late and she would say, “Well, I was just wondering,” you know, “because we can’t find this pan or we can’t find this,” some item from her house. And pretty much intimating, in my opinion, that maybe my mother had taken it. So, I think a lot of those memories as I grew up, you know, colored the way I have thought of Anglo Americans.

*******************************************

Dr. Gutiérrez:
You were saying that there is a difference between how women are treated in the political process versus Chicano men for political processing. You made some observations.

Ms. Castro:
Right. And I think too that, you know, maybe where my naiveté attitude comes in is that I expect more from Chicanas, ethnically and morally. It doesn’t always happen, but for the most part, Chicanas have been different in the way they view or they come to politics. And the way they play the game or refuse to play the game and I think that we pay for that. And, in one of the campaigns that I worked a few years back, after Raza Unida, because after Raza Unida, I wasn’t sure I would ever work another one again because it was such a difficult time. But, I worked on a judge’s race, Mary Roman, who became the first Latina judge to be elected in Bexar County. And it is very interesting because she has had to take a lot of hits by the Chicano attorneys, basically by them saying that, you know, she was too tough. She is particularly too tough on domestic violence issues. She is a criminal judge now, but it always seems that no matter what, it is still very hard to raise the money for…. It is still very hard. The guys just really do not, are not extremely supportive. And yet, like I say, she is the first Chicana was elected in Bexar County as a judge, female. And I can remember a couple of times, you know, one of the ways that people dismiss you, I remember going to a rally in one of the presidential campaigns and she was already judge at that job. And I think it was [former Clinton HUD Secretary] Henry [Cisneros] or who was doing the introductions, but they went on gushing about one of the Anglo female judges, and nothing whatsoever on Mary. And I thought, this is very telling, they will, can deal with Anglo women before they will actually give any credence to Chicana women. It is very disenchanting to the point where I got to the point where I said, “You know what? I am never working for another male again, period, again for campaign, for anything.” I have had to back off because I am hoping that my sons will run someday, but I just got that mad because I have seen it over and over and over.

*******************************************

Castro was part of a movement in the early 1970s called the, “San Antonio Committee to Free Angela Davis.”

The committee at one point became subject to investigation by the FBI.

SOURCE: Washington University in St. Louis Digital Gateway http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/files/original/49784e4b7a3fea84e5d402710160a399.pdf



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