Valley Farm Workers Assistance

In 1966 Rio Grande Valley farm workers were striking for minimum wage pay, $1.25 an hour. At the time, workers were getting about 40 cents an hour. They were also striking for access to clean water and restroom facilities.   In the summer of 1966, after attempts to block the U.S.-Mexico border bridge in Roma, Texas were unsuccessful, strikers marched from Rio Grande City to Austin.  


Robert Hunter taught Political Science at Trinity. 

Robert Hunter, member of the political science faculty at Trinity, was a campus representative for the Valley Workers Assistance Committee in San Antonio.  While there is no coverage of the march in the
Trinitonian as they did not publish their first issue of the 1966 fall semester until September 16th, there is indication that perhaps Hunter and students participated in “La Marcha” which came through San Antonio on August 27, 1966.

Itinerary for La Marcha in San Antonio, August 22, 1966. UA0150 Robert Hunter Papers.

"Local labor representatives, politicians, and students join the Valley marchers at a rally outside St. John’s Seminary, San Antonio, August 27, 1966." From UTSA's Top Shelf Blog on La Marcha (Image from San Antonio Express News Collection, UTSA Special Collections MS 360: E-0012-187-A-33)

Young Democrats 1966-67.jpg

Trinity University Young Democrats for the 1966-1967 school year.  The group was led by Israel Anderson.

In the fall of that year, and into the next, protesters continued a blockade at the Roma bridge and to strike for better working conditions. Trinity’s Young Democrats student organization, sponsored by Hunter, led efforts on campus to support the ongoing protests down in The Valley. Young Democrats president Israel Anderson recounted his experience organizing and participating in the blockade.

“A lot was going on in Texas. I think that was the year that several of my friends and colleagues in the poli-sci department, guys that I’d become friends with, talked to me and asked me to consider running for president of the Young Democrats on campus. So I did, and I was elected president of the Young Democrats and served for two years until I graduated in ‘68. And we were an active club. There was a Young Republicans group too, but we were a lot more active in matters of the day. Like the Farm Workers Strike down in the Rio Grande Valley led by the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez. So we got involved there in S.A. and a lot of local efforts to support that movement. Fundraising, rallies, we would do things in the Union Building, the SUB we called it, the Student Union Building, like set up tables and try to get students to donate clothing and food stuffs, non-perishable and then we’d put it all together andstudents from St. Mary’s and Incarnate Word and Our Lady of the Lake, area colleges, UT, we’d all organize and go down to the Valley [Rio Grande Valley] in convoys of vehicles and deliver all those things, once we collected them.

We’d also go to the rallies down there when they were held. And I never will forget, one time in the Valley we were down at the bridge at Roma [Texas] and they were trying to stop the what they called the “Scabs,” the guys that were coming from Mexico that were breaking the strike line and working in the field, they were trying to keep them from coming over by being out there at the bridge with signs in Spanish and English trying to deter them from coming. And a bunch of growers in several pickup trucks drove by and shot at us with shotguns and whatnot to try and scare us. I don’t think they were really intent on killing any of us but they wanted to scare us. That was an interesting experience.”

Note of appreciate to Murray and Stanage.jpg

Other faculty members were supportive of the cause such as Sherman M. Stanage of the philosophy department and Jack Murray of the economics department.  Later, both Murray and Stanage came under fire for supporting city council candidate Pete Torres in a paid advertisement in the San Antonio Light.  While other faculty members Trinity signed the ad, both Murray and Stanage refused to apologize to Trinity administration for doing so.  Given the rationale that Murray's department was over staffed and Stanage had done little to recruit philosophy majors, both contracts were not renewed after this event.

Scroll through Trinitonian pages that mention assistance for the Valley Farm Workers Strike.