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The Avena-Wilson Collection, no. 3 - La Raza Unida State Convention October 1971

Richard Avena, Linda Wilson, Rebecca Avena

Silent | 1971

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  •  Gathering of the La Raza Unida Party (RUP) in San Antonio 
  •  Speeches being given at the RUP rally 
  •  Footage of signs at the rally 
  •  Members of the RUP rally gathered in front of the Alamo, posing for the camera 
  •  Kids attempting to fly a kite 
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This home movie captures scenes of the state convention of La Raza Unida Party (RUP) in San Antonio in October 1971. The state convention that year was the first time that RUP attempted to organize at the state level, and delegates attended from nine counties across the state, including Travis, Tarrant, and Bexar Counties. The decision was made at that convention to place the party on the 1972 general election ballot, a year that saw much success for the party. Scenes are included of party members gathered in the Alamo Plaza Historic District, in front of the Alamo Cenotaph, holding “Chicano Power,” “Brown Power,” and “Free Angela Davis” signs in front of UFW flags.
The Raza Unida party (RUP) was established in 1970 in Crystal City, Texas, as a third political party seeking greater social, economic, and political self-determination for Mexican-Americans in the state, where they held relatively no power while often being the majority. The party later came to encompass the same goals for Latinos in general and other minorities, and is associated, along with United Farm Workers (UFW), with the Chicano Movement of the early 1970s. RUP began by fielding candidates for local county, city, and school board elections, easily winning several elections in its first year. In 1971, RUP decided to organize at a state level, holding its first state convention in San Antonio in October of 1971. The decision was made at that convention to place the party on the 1972 general election ballot. RUP had candidates in more than 40 Texas counties running for city, district, state, and congressional offices. The party found a gubernatorial candidate in Waco Lawyer Ramsey Muñiz, and Alma Canales of Edinburg became the RUP candidate for Lt. Governor, signaling the important role women held in the party. Though Muñiz was not elected, he received a significant number of votes, 6 percent, causing Dolph Briscoe’s governorship to be the first in Texas history to be won without a majority. In September of 1972, the party held its first national convention in El Paso with more than 1,500 people attendance, and by 1974, RUP was the dominant political party in county and city positions throughout South Texas. Despite its many victories in those community elections, the party never really took hold in state and national elections, nor in major urban areas where most Latinos lived, a population whose support was crucial to the survival of RUP. By 1977, activism had slowed and the party lost much of its membership, many aligning themselves with the Mexican-American Democrats. By 1978, RUP lost its state funding and effectively ceased to be a political party. Though shortlived and not wildly successful on a state or national level, RUP changed the political landscape of Texas, emphasizing Mexican-American community control, bilingual education, women's and workers' rights, new modes of transportation, improved funding of public education, and better medical care.