La Raza Unida celebrates 50 years of activism, fighting injustices for Mexican Americans

SAN ANTONIO – This month marks 50 years since La Raza Unida Party became a national organization founded in South Texas, pushing back against injustices and inequities facing the Mexican American community for decades.

“You’re never too young when there is injustice to stand up for yourself and for others,” said Irma Mireles Berry, 50th RUP committee chair and founder.

The organization is holding a three-day conference in downtown San Antonio to commemorate its role in the Mexican American Civil Rights movement.

“We were tired of how we were being treated,” said Mireles.

La Raza Unida Party was established in 1970 in Crystal City and became a national organization in 1972. It also became a third political party in Texas, pushing for more voting, social and economic rights for Mexican Americans.

The party ultimately dissolved in the late 1970s, but the organization led to more activism in the Chicano community and brought about new ideas and Latino leaders. Those leaders went on to win elections and impact voting in communities.

“You don’t read about us in the history of the state of Texas, and that’s missing in our books. It’s missing in our schools,” said Luz Gutierrez, 50th RUP Committee Co-Chair. “We need this kind of conference to let them know we did this 50 years ago, and we were successful in doing this, and that has to be carried on by the young people.”

Former members and founders now hope to pass the torch to younger generations. While the goals are different, that spirit of activism and representation have stayed the same, whether political in nature or other Latino-based issues.

“The movement carries on. There’s so much right now, like diabetes and how it’s affecting our communities. We should rally around that as an action item,” said Gutierrez.

“We need to be the change. We need to get out and vote and make the change happen,” said Mireles.

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