Jose Angel Gutiérrez (1944- )
Jose Angel Gutiérrez was one of many activists working to change public education on a local level in the 1960s and 70s. Born in Crystal City, Texas, and educated in local schools, Gutiérrez mobilized the community to demand equal treatment for Chicano students.
As he studied for his masters degree and doctorate in political science, Gutiérrez commitment to social activism focused on community organizing. Gutiérrez took his first decisive step toward activism in 1967 while a student at St. Marys University in San Antonio. There he organized the Mexican American Youth Organization, a vehicle for social activism. Later he established a political organization, La Raza Unida.
In a school system and a town where the vast majority of the population was Latino but the power structure was dominated by Anglos, Gutiérrez helped Mexican-American students to organize a strike in 1969. He staged an election upset and became head of the Crystal City School Board. Gutiérrez instituted a series of sweeping changes including use of Spanish in the classroom, the hiring of many Spanish-speaking teachers and principals, the introduction of a new curriculum that stressed Latino history and achievements, and bilingual education. For six years Gutiérrez served as a judge in Zavala County, and he has held various academic appointments. Currently, he is an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington.