“There are going to be many times in your life where the only thing you have is your voice. Use it. … there has got to be that person that is not afraid, even though everybody thinks they are crazy, you go out there and you say it.”

María Antonietta Berriozábal (1941 - )

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During her ten years on the city council she consistently advocated for her community, even when her stance was unpopular, voting against the Alamodome, the Applewhite reservoir project, Six Flags Fiesta Texas tax abatements and years of rezoning over the Edwards Aquifer. In 1991 she ran for Mayor, and although she lost in a close runoff, her campaign garnered national attention. 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. She continues to meet with politicians, clergy, young activists and neighbors, often at her dining room table. And she continues to fight for social justice. In 2010, Berriozábal was jailed with 15 college students and community activists during a protest at Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office in support of the DREAM Act.

Maria has also continued to advocate for social justice issues. In 2018 she organized a civil rights conference at Our Lady of the Lake University to mark the 50th Anniversary that the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights met at the university to examine the challenges Mexican-Americans of the Southwest faced. She also served on the mayor’s Housing Policy Taskforce. In May 2019, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Our Lady of the Lake University.  

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“If we believe that we are interconnected and that we are dependent on each other for life itself, we will take responsibility for sharing our gifts with others. We will advocate for those who have less than we do, whether its economic needs, education, health, home, country, safety around them, and true equity."