Norman Guerrero and La Universidad


Just as students and faculty brought issues to campus, many students remained committed to the communities they came from.  Norman Guerrero was one such student.  Guerrero was a religion and philosophy major and attended Trinity from 1967-1970.  While at Trinity he served as secretary for the Young Democrats during the 1968-1969 school year. During his time at Trinity Guerrero was working with the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) during its inaugural year to establish La Universidad de los Barrios (LUB). LUB was a freedom school intended to educate street youth and gang members about social issues and politics. Guerrero served as the school’s first dean.  But just as quickly as it took Guerrero and George Velasquez (Willie Velaquez’s brother)  to gather interested youth from gangs to come together for
La Causa, the functioning of the school came into question by authorities when a boy who was part of the school was stabbed to  death outside by a rival gang member.


Photo of Norman Guerrero with students of La Universidad de los Barrios in the San Antonio Express News, April 15, 1969.

Guerrero, who was part of MAYO leadership, was present for the infamous MAYO press conference of April 10, 1969.  Guerrero was there to support MAYO’s objectives and defend LUB from Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez’s criticisms of the school.  Guerrero stated these criticisms came from the ignorance of not understanding the functioning and purpose of the school, which was to make students aware of how Mexican Americans had been injured by a “gringo” system.  A system which as Jose Angel Gutierrez, president of MAYO, explained reflects “bigotry, racism, discrimination, and prejudice and bias.” Guerrero later noted in the press conference that there were a lot of gringos at Trinity.

guerrero food-tri19690926.jpg

Article about the El Chaleco restaurant in the Trinitonian.

The damage of the violence that had occurred at the schoolhouse and Congressman Gonzalez criticism had done to LUB were unavoidable. 

Guerrero and his team closed the house and the school was required to focus on programs such as housing and job training and not voter registration and community organizing. There was a shift in curriculum and organizational structure and LUB reopened in May of 1969. Guerrero focused on teaching philosophy. 

Tito Moreno, another student who had just graduated from Trinity, became LUB's new director and taught about economics.  Moreno who majored in music went on to start Teatro de los Barrios, a street theater troupe, and Chicano rock band Distant Dream.

Their student training focus was a restaurant, El Chaleco, operated by street youth, high school and college students, and drop outs.  However El Chaleco closed within its first year of operation and with that LUB as well.

The social activism centered around LUB prompted the formation of a local group of the Brown Berets in San Antonio.