The Making of a Civil Rights Leader: José Angel Gutiérrez


by José Angel Gutiérrez

ISBN: 978-1-55885-451-2
Publication Date: April 30, 2005
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 176

An inspiring account written for young adults of the evolution of a Chicano fire-brand.

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About The Book

Born in 1944, José Angel Gutiérrez grew up in a time when Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Texas and the Southwest attended separate schools and avoided public facilities and restaurants that were designated “Whites Only.”  Despite the limits of segregation and rural culture in Texas, the passion to learn and to educate others, as well as to undo injustice, burned in his belly from an early age.  Gutiérrez offers portraits of his early influences, from his father’s own pursuit of knowledge and political involvement, to his Mexican pre-school teacher’s dedication to bilingual-bicultural education which did not exist in public schools at that time, and to his mother’s courage and persistence, taking up migrant field work to provide for her family after the death of young Gutiérrez’s father.

In this intensely narrated memoir, Gutiérrez details his rise from being beaten down by racist political and agricultural interests in South Texas to his leadership role in the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  Complemented by photos from his personal archives, Gutiérrez recalls his struggle for education, his early baptism in grass-roots political organizing, and his success in creating one of history’s most successful third party movements, La Raza Unida Party.

Along the way, Gutiérrez earned college and law degrees, as well as a Ph. D. in Political Science.  He was elected or appointed to school boards, commissions, judgeships and party chairmanships, all with the single-minded purpose of extending equality to Mexican Americans and other minorities in the United States.  Through his tireless efforts, he crossed paths with African American and Native American civil rights leaders, Mexican presidents, and other international figures.

“Studies of the Chicano movement of the ’60s and ’70s are limited, so the reflections of an activist like Gutierrez offer useful context and detail.”
Booklist on The Making of a Chicano Militant

“This is a classic in Chicano politics.”
Pluma Fronteriza on A Gringo Manual on How to Handle Mexicans

José Angel Gutiérrez is the author of A Chicano Manual on How to Handle Gringos (Arte Público Press, 2003), A Gringo Manual on How to Handle Mexicans (Arte Público Press, 2001) and The Making of a Chicano Militant (University of Wisconsin Press, 1998). He is the translator of Reies López Tijerina’s autobiography, They Called Me King Tiger (Arte Público Press, 2000.) The founder and former director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, he is a professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also practices law in Dallas, Texas, where he lives with his family.