BIOGRAPHY:

Maria Antonietta Berriozábal

Maria Antonietta Berriozábal

Pioneer

Maria Antonietta Berriozábal was the first Mexican-American woman elected to the San Antonio City Council who fought for a range of issues from a dais in council chambers. She was born just a block away from the Rio Grande in Laredo and is one of six children. In 1942, her family moved to San Antonio in the Christ the King Church neighborhood where she was a child translator. At the age of 13, through teachings at her church, she learned that her community had a right to sit at the table beside elected officials and have a say in plans that concerned their future. After graduating from Providence High School, her first job was with the Salvation Army, where she worked for a dollar an hour. She moved on to work at HemisFair ’68, the local Democratic Party and the Bexar County Courthouse, where she learned about politics. In 1979 she graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. Four days before her 40th birthday, she became the city’s first Latina council member. After a 10-year term, Maria Antonietta Berriozábal continued her fight for social justice, often at her dining room table, where she welcomed a diverse group of people to share opinions about local, national and world issues. Over 38 years, young activists, clergy and neighbors met with her to talk about topics such as the DREAM Act, gentrification, energy, poverty, water and Latinas’ rights. She founded Hispana Unidas, served as a delegate to the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference in Bejing and was appointed U.S. Representative to the Inter American Commission on Women. Berriozábal wrote her 2012 memoir, “Maria, Daughter of Immigrants,” to tell the story of her parents, Apolinar Rodriguez and Sixta Arredondo Rodriguez, whose families fled the Mexican Revolution to settle in the Rio Grande Valley.

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