National Hispanic Hero Award 2019 – Jose Angel Gutierrez
Fifty years ago, three monumental events occurred in South Texas during the civil rights era that empowered the Mexican community like never before. At the center of these movements was a young activist and militant named José Angel Gutiérrez. Born in 1944, Jose Angel grew up in Crystal City, Texas, in a time of segregation. As a youth, he experienced discrimination, was physically punished at school if heard speaking Spanish and had run-ins with the Texas Rangers for showing his support for Mexican American candidates running for city council. These experiences ignited within him a fury to change the status quo. Determined that he could be the catalyst for change he earns a PhD in Political Science and becomes the founder of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) and of the Raza Unida Party. Jose Angel is referred to as one of the 4 most influential people of the Chicano movement. And many would argue that he was the number one catalyst for Chicano civil rights during the 60’s and 70’s.