Written by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Read by Khotan Shahbazi-Harmon
In 1973, Tejanas organized Mujeres por la Raza, a caucus within the statewide Raza Unida party, to advance the election of Chicanas to public office and ensure women’s leadership within the Chicano movement.
Mujeres founders Ino Álvarez, Evey Chapa, and Marta Cotera had helped create the Raza Unida Party in 1970, Chapa writing into its platform strong statements on women’s equality and the importance of family. Still, Chicanas felt compelled to create the caucus to counter the party’s male-dominated culture.
Throughout 1973, Mujeres por la Raza sponsored conferences to promote women’s educational and political advancement, organize Tejano communities, and fight police violence. Conference sessions covered local and state political structure, campaign management, and women’s consciousness raising. Speakers included the orator María L. de Hernández and Virginia Múzquiz, a national party chair and early Tejana candidate for the Texas Legislature.
Tejanas of all ages from across Texas joined the caucus, supporting such candidates as Alma Canales for lieutenant governor, Marta Cotera for State Board of Education, and María Jiménez and Orelia Cole for state representative. The result was increased political awareness and activism among Tejanas. Mujeres was active until approximately 1976, when the Raza Unida Party failed to garner enough gubernatorial votes to retain party status and disappeared. However, the caucus likely contributed to the election of Irma Rangel as the first Tejana member of the Texas Legislature.
Acosta, Teresa Palomo, "RAZA UNIDA PARTY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/war01).
Acosta, Teresa Palomo and Ruthe Winegarten, Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.
Orozco, Cynthia E., "MUJERES POR LA RAZA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/vimgh).
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.