José Ángel Gutiérrez


José Ángel Gutiérrez

José Angel Gutiérrez, is an attorney and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington in the United States. He was a founding member of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in San Antonio in 1967, and a founding member and past president of the Raza Unida Party, a Mexican-American third party movement that supported candidates for elective office in Texas, California, and other areas of the Southwestern and Midwestern United States.

Education

Gutiérrez is a 1962 graduate of Crystal City High School in Crystal City, Texas and served in the U.S. Army. He has also earned degrees from Texas A&M University–Kingsville (B.A. 1966), St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas (M.A. 1968), the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D. 1976) and the University of Houston Law Center (J.D. 1988). He has done postdoctoral work at Stanford University, Colegio de México, University of Washington, and Centro de Estudios Económicos y Sociales del Tercer Mundo in Mexico City, Mexico.

Academic career

After the fall of La Raza Unida Party, Gutierrez moved to Oregon in 1980 where he taught at Colegio Cesar Chavez in Mt. Angel for a year and then at Western Oregon University in Monmouth from 1981-1985, where he also served as Director of Minority Student Services. In 1984 he unsuccessfully ran for Oregon State Representative. He was also very active in social service projects serving as Director of the Hispanic Services Project for the United Way of the Columbia, Willamette, Portland area and Executive Director of the Commission on Economic Development Subcommittee of the National Catholic Conference's Campaign for Human Development. In 1986, he left Oregon and returned to Texas to attend law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas before transferring to the University of Houston.

He founded the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1994 and served as its Director until December 1996, at which time he became the Special Advisor to the President of the university until December 1998.

Public service

He has been elected and appointed to public office since 1970. He has served as an elected Trustee and President of the Crystal City Independent School District (1970-1973), Urban Renewal Commissioner for Crystal City, Texas (1970-1972), County Judge for Zavala County, Texas (1974-1978, re-elected 1978-1981), Commissioner for the Oregon Commission on International Trade (1983-1985), Administrative Law Judge for the City of Dallas, Texas (1900-1992), and member of the Ethics Commission for the City of Dallas, Texas (1999-2000).

Publications

His book publications include "El Político: The Mexican American Elected Official" (El Paso: Mictla Publications, 1972); "A Gringo Manual on How to Handle Mexicans" (Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico: Imprenta Velasco Burkhardt, 1974); "A War of Words" (co-authored) (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1985); "The Making of a Chicano Militant: Lessons from Cristal" (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998); and translator of Reies López Tijerina, "They Called Me “King Tiger”: My Struggle for the Land and Our Rights" (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2000); a revised and expanded edition of "A Gringo Manual on How to Handle Mexicans" (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2001); "Chicano Manual on How to Handle Gringos" (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2003); "We Won’t Back Down: Severita Lara’s Rise from Student Leader to Mayor" (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2005); and "Making of a Civil Rights Leader" (Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2005).

He also has written several articles and chapters over the years, the most recent being "Chicano Music: The Politics and Evolution to 1950", for an anthology edited by Lawrence Clayton for Texas A & M University Press, forthcoming; "Binacionalismo en el siglo XXI: Chicanos y mexicanos en los Estados Unidos", Fondo Editorial Huaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico, forthcoming; "Experiences of Chicana County Judges in Texas Politics: In Their Own Words", Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, 20:1, Spring 1999; and, "Los dos Mexicos", Extensiones: Revista Interdisciplinaria de la Universidad Intercontinental, Mexico D.F., Mexico 4:1 y 2. 1997. Gutierrez organized and conducted most of the interviews for the oral history project Tejano Voices at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Honors

Gutiérrez has received many honors including being named as one of the "100 Outstanding Latino Texans of the 20th Century" by Latino Monthly, January 2000, and "Distinguished Texas Hispanic by Texas Hispanic Magazine, October 1996. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education in June 1995, and the National Council of La Raza's Chicano Hero Award in 1994.

Criticism

Gutiérrez has been accused of espousing anti-White sentiment. The anti-illegal immigration group American Patrol quotes him as saying, "We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him." [http://www.americanpatrol.com/REFERENCE/JoseAngelGutierrezQuote.html]

There still remains some debate about the actual words Gutierrez used in his infamous "kill the Gringo" speech of April 10 or 11, 1969 in San Antonio when he was head of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO). In his speech which was mainly about Mexican American civil rights (these are U.S. citizens of Mexican ancestry) he said:

"We realize that the effects of cultural genocide takes many forms—some Mexicanos will become psychologically castrated, others will become demagogues and gringos as well and others will come together, resist and eliminate the gringo. We will be the latter.”

Questions followed the press statement, particularly from Kemper Diehl, a reporter with the "San Antonio Express". Diehl wrote an article on the press conference and printed his version of an exchange:

Q: What do you mean by ‘eliminate the gringo?’

A: “You can eliminate an individual in various ways. You can certainly kill him but that is not our intent at this moment. You can remove the base of support that he operates from be it economic, political, social. That is what we intend to do.”

Kemper Diehl wrote more: “Gutierrez was again pressed as to intentions of killing gringos ‘if worst comes to worst.’ He replied ‘If worst comes to worst and we have to resort to that means, it would be self-defense.’ ” Gutierrez went on to be quoted as detailing attempts on his life and property just a few years before in Crystal City, Texas.

In "A Challenge to Build a New Society", "New York Times", April 20, 1969, Gutierrez was quoted as saying "we intend to eliminate the Gringo." Gutierrez is described as a veteran, and "scholarly" and is quoted as advocating violence only in "self-defense."

This "kill the Gringo" quote may have been mis-quoted in a "San Antonio Express" newspaper editorial on April 12, 1969 which described MAYO as a "handful of apparently frustrated young men" and Gutierrez as a "violent" young man.

It is worth mentioning that after his 1969 comments the San Antonio newspapers carried criticisms by Anglos and Mexican Americans alike. He was called a "boy", a "baby face" and a "young juvenile with a tamale on his shoulder" in letters running in the "Dallas Morning News" April 12, 1969, and "San Antonio Express" letters from April 12, 16, and 20, 1969.

In a "Wall Street Journal" article titled "The Angry Chicano" June 11, 1970 Gutierrez, then heading La Raza Unida Party in Crystal City, Texas, is quoted as saying: "It's too late for the Gringo to make amends. Violence has got to come." The article detailed the extreme poverty, poor working conditions, and frustration felt by young Mexican American citizens at the start of the 1970s as they sought to build their own civil rights movement as citizens in the United States.

Because of the various criticisms that Gutierrez has had to confront, he has opened himself to a series of debates in which his most controversial views are examined. Purdue University graduate, and debate coordinator, Brian Boothe, helped Gutierrez appear on "The Sean Hannity Show" to debate conservative David Horowitz, writer of "The Professors". The debate can be found beginning on page 7, [http://www.lapolitiquera.com/LA_Politiquera__April_2006.pdf here] . In this debate Gutierrez specifically denied ever having said the quote attributed to him by "American Patrol" at the beginning of this section, as well as a number of other statements attributed to him.

Gutierrez has also said that he does not use "gringos" to refer to all white people, but instead uses it to refer to people of any race who hold a certain racist mindset. In [http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/latinos/gutierrez.htm this article] from "The Dallas Morning News", Gutierrez is quoted as saying "Not all Anglos are gringos, and not all gringos are white. I have met some Hispanics, blacks and Mexican nationals that are as racist and prejudiced against our Raza in the U.S. as any gringo. In fact, in Mexican society there is an entire class of anti-Mexican Mexicans. I have met many of them." He is also quoted as saying "It's a mindset. To me, a gringo is anyone with anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant views. Some of them are us. There are 'High-Spanics' who want to be anything but Mexican. It doesn't follow at all that all Anglo-Saxons are gringos. Racism is not the exclusive venue of white people."

External links

* [http://www.larazaunida.com/ La Nueva Raza Unida Party website]
* [http://www.dos-centavos.blogspot.com/ Dos Centavos blog]
* [http://libraries.uta.edu/tejanovoices/ Tejano Voices project]
* [http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utsa/00002/utsa-00002.html A Guide to the José Ángel Gutiérrez Papers] at the University of Texas at San Antonio Archives


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