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Voces Oral History Project with Eddie Cavazos

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0:46 - Place of Origin/childhood/Parents perspective of education/Life growing up

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Partial Transcript: "It was a lot different from today's environment."..."You could get an education you can't get from a school."

Segment Synopsis: Cavazos describes how his neighborhood was very social, everyone knew everyone. Cavazos grew up in a city housing project in Corpus Christi with lots of children. There was lots of diversity and interaction in his neighborhood. He also discusses his parents views on education and how they were not fond of him moving onto college.

Keywords: African Americans; Black Americans; Housing projects; Spanish language-usage

Subjects: Childhood

5:20 - Post-high school career/Inspirations/Interest in politics/college life

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Partial Transcript: His own plans after high school: “Well, I was thinking of college because that’s what I heard from some other friends. I never got that kind of discussion at home. Some of my friends were going to college and talking about it, and I remember inquiring about it with a friend of mine and he said, ‘Well, go talk to your counselor,’ which I had never spoken with, did not know a counselor existed, I did not know what a counselor was. When I went to the counselor, she looked at my information and grades.” The counselor, not Hispanic, said to him, “Your people don’t go to college. You need to go to the military."

Segment Synopsis: Cavazos describes his life immediately after high school and why he ended up joining the army.He discusses people who he looked up to and how he came about the idea of wanting to earn his degree. Influential adults in his life: He had teachers and family members, and he had a lot of cousins that were educators and had degrees. He had a cousin that was a pharmacist. Cavazos talks about how President John F. Kennedy inspired him to get into politics. He had never really paid attention to politicians like the president. He was 17 when Kennedy got elected and ever since then he started to read into politics and he calls this a turning point in his life. He chose Kingsville to attend college because of the proximity. “At that time, that’s all that was around. There was no four-year college in Corpus, there was a Baptist school there, but there was no state school, just a community college

Keywords: Army; Germany; Higher Education; Hispanic Americans; military service; U.S. Army

12:19 - Involvement with LULAC in Corpus Christi

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Partial Transcript:

" I started getting involved with politics through mainly volunteering."... " I had no intention ever of running for office. I loved politics, I enjoyed it and being involved in it.”

“Then for some reason, I don’t know why, I agreed to run for office.”

Segment Synopsis: This section shows the involvement with LULAC Cavazos had and what kind of work he did with them. He got involved with LULAC Council Number 1 in Corpus after returning from the military. It was an organization involved in civil rights, education, voting rights, and things that they are still doing. He started getting involved with politics mainly by volunteering to get coffee, putting up signs, and so on. Gradually, he became more involved with strategizing and recruiting candidates. One day, the tables turned on him and the people he used to work with to recruit candidates for political office turned to him and said he would be the guy to run next. This is how he got involved in the election process. He also discussed a lawsuit he was involved in to integrate public schools in Corpus.

Keywords: Hispanic; Hispanic Americans; LULAC; School integration

16:40 - Running for office/Lessons learned in Legislation

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Partial Transcript: . "we sued for single-member districts in the city council in the Federal court with the help of MALDEF, and we won the lawsuit.”

Segment Synopsis: In this section we hear Cavazos talk about his first few elections within the government and how he ended up getting elected to congress. He learned that he couldn’t just present a bill and assume everybody would like it just because they liked him. You have to gain respect in a job like this.
The other issue is that there are so many issues that come up in the state legislature, issues that are legal, about health care, education, business, security issues, and not one member is an expert on all of them.
He described the decision making process as trying to work with everyone and not making it personal when you disagree.

Keywords: LULAC council number 1; United States, Congress

26:20 - Lulac v. Richards lawsuit and the south texas border initiative

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Partial Transcript: "There has always been a lack of services in South Texas." Cavazos said "If you wanted to get a college degree you had to move."

Segment Synopsis: Cavazos talks about how he helped fight for University funding in southern Texas schools. He begins to discuss his efforts to create programs for schools in El Paso. Before this kids would have to leave town to gain a higher education. There were no funds for these programs in south Texas. Eventually a lawsuit, but they had to find sources in order to fund this lawsuit. Cavazos discusses the involvement that MALDEF had in the lawsuit. Cavazos and his coalition was in charge of who was going to fund the lawsuit, who was going to testify, where would the lawsuit be filed, and what were the chances of success. There were multiple meetings pre-lawsuit and during the lawsuit that were organized in secret that even today, nobody knows about -- mostly the media

Keywords: Al Kauffman; Civil rights; Kingsville, TX; South Texas Border Initiative

Subjects: Lawsuit

32:49 - Meeting in secret and making compromises/ How the lawsuit motivated the legislation/ University Mergers

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Partial Transcript: "There is an old saying in politics...if we can divide you. we can conquer you"

"So the concept of the whole meeting was to organize and to agree.It took a while, but eventually they agreed to where everybody was getting something out of the arrangement"

Segment Synopsis: Cavazos specifically talks about Laredo in this section and how students who graduate with PhDs from a University in Laredo would have to leave town to look for a job. He talks about how the legislation tried every tactic they could to ignore or deflect Cavazos and his organization. He also shares some of the arguments he would use to get his point across to stubborn legislatures.After meeting with the regent from UT, the regent suggested that Cavazos get a resolution calling for a study of higher education needs in South Texas. So, they did the resolution, and they got the House and the Senate to appoint a committee to have hearings and testimonies from all the way from Corpus, Kingsville, Laredo, the Valley, Brownsville, and McAllen. Cavazos tells how of how some Southern schools did not want to change the name of their University.

Subjects: Laredo; Meetings; Organization; PhD

47:45 - Pushback from the legislature against the South Texas Border Initiative/ Economic impact of higher education

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Partial Transcript: “Either you educate them and they become tax-paying citizens with a job, or they become a liability to the state. And the numbers are there.”

"The pushback was in the money. It’s always the money. Whoever has the money has the power."

Segment Synopsis: Cavazos talks about how money was always the problem. The funding for schools was not the same in the south, however it was something they had to fight for. Cavazos says that the state is going to pay for these people one way or another. The previous lack of higher education systems in the south used to make it hard for certain areas to open up factories or companies. Simply because there were not enough qualified people to work the jobs these companies needed. Cavazos discusses the impact of having the UT and A&M facilities in South Texas. He says that these schools have brought job opportunities and more money to the south.

Keywords: Civil rights; South Texas Border Initiative; Valley

66:12 - The aftermath of the lawsuit and initiative and looking to the future for South Texas.

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Partial Transcript: “The change has been dramatic in the quality of students that we’re getting out and graduating. And another thing -- Austin as a whole is a big draw for young people. They get a degree here, they stay here."

Segment Synopsis: How the lawsuit changed schools in the South and the struggles that still faced students attending those universities.He discusses how a school of Pharmacy was opened in Kingsville, which was a big deal because before then students had to travel to Austin to attend a pharmacy school. The quality of students changed. More were graduating and more programs began to open near the border.

Keywords: aftermath; Change; Students

Subjects: Future

78:04 - The future and advice for current advocates

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Partial Transcript: Cavazos starts to give advice for advocates currently and praises them for their work. He says there is still more work to be done and that arguments they've used before may not work anymore.

Keywords: Adovcates; Advice; Praise

Subjects: Wisdom