Latino Education and Advocacy Days (LEAD) Video Recordings

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Video recording of the "Maria del Rosario “Rosie” Castro" presentation.


Maria del Rosario “Rosie” Castro is a civil rights activist and educator from San Antonio, Texas, who has been involved in several prominent groups, such as the Young Democrats of America, the Mexican American Youth Organization, the Committee for Barrio Betterment, and the Raza Unida Party. She is the mother of former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing Julián Castro and Texas Congressman Joaquín Castro.

Growing up in the San Antonio barrio, a low-income neighborhood on the West Side, Castro cited the beginning of her interest in social justice in witnessing the racial and economic boundaries that affected her family, especially her mother. Her mother, a Mexican immigrant who reached the fourth-grade, cleaned the houses of the affluent in Alamo Heights. As a young girl, Rosie was struck by the remarkable differences -- the streets and drainage, the sidewalks and schools. The inequities she observed in her youth inspired her social activism in college and beyond.

Rosie first worked as a volunteer for Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 presidential campaign, and later she joined with the Mexican American Unity Council and helped to organize the organization’s boycott of the San Antonio Savings Association. With a scholarship from her valedictorian title and other financial means, she successfully enrolled at Our Lady of the Lake University. As a student at Our Lady of the Lake College (BA Spanish 1971, Sociology 1975), she joined with the Catholic Youth Association and organized the Young Democrats. In 1971, she became one of the first Chicanas to run for City Council. She helped found the La Raza Unida Party and became its Bexar County chair. Rosie was also active during the “Free Angela Davis” Campaign of 1971.

Castro received a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from The University of Texas at San Antonio and worked at Palo Alto College, where she served as Interim Dean of Student Affairs from 2008 until she retired in 2013. Rosie’s belief in the importance of education remains as strong today as it did more than 50 years ago and continues to advocate for social justice. She is an accomplished community activist, a published poet, and a tireless advocate for voter registration, for better political representation, and for better city services, particularly on the West Side of San Antonio. She also is involved in national organizations such as Latinas Represent, the Texas Organizing Project, and AARP.

In 2015, she was elected to the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2017 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Our Lady of the Lake University. But she is perhaps best known for supporting the political aspirations of her sons. Both Joaquin Castro and Julian Castro have cited Rosie’s activism as the foundation for their political careers.

Rosie took her sons to political rallies and instilled in them a desire to serve. Julián delivered a moving tribute to Rosie during the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. “My grandmother never owned a house,” Julián said. “She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter (Rosie) become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone."


  • Introduction / Moderator: Dr. Alejandro Jazan, Associate Professor-Speech, Communication Studies, College of the Desert, and Doctoral Graduate-Cohort 10, Educational Leadership Program, CSUSB
  • Featured Speaker: Maria del Rosario “Rosie” Castro, Civil Rights Activist & Educator