Carolina Malpica Munguía

(1891-1977)

Community and education activist

Toda por la Patria y el Hogar

THEME

Education

THEME

Carolina Malpica Munguía believed that women were in a unique position to improve the lives of others. They bore a moral responsibility to maintain personal integrity in their relationships, and to uplift those who were less fortunate. She also believed that Mexicans and Mexican Americans could become accepted in American society, but could also take pride in their culture and heritage. 


Munguía was born in 1891 in Puebla, Puebla, to a wealthy hacendado family. She obtained her teacher’s certificate from the Instituto Normal Metodista in 1911. She was an accomplished educator, and became principal of the Methodist School in Orizaba, then at her own school, until both closed due to the political unrest of the Mexican Revolution. In 1916 she married José Rómulo Munguía Torres, and they had seven children. In 1926 the Munguías moved to San Antonio. Carolina initially taught special Spanish classes at the Wesleyan Institute, but eventually stopped teaching in order to devote herself to her family.


However, her work for the Westside was just beginning. She was the first Mexican woman on the radio in San Antonio. Around 1932 she started a radio program, "La Estrella," on KONO. In it she selected music, literature, and discussed the geography and culture of Mexico. In the 1930s she also helped establish and operate the family printing business, Munguía Printers, of which she was vice president. In 1937 she helped found the Círculo Social Feminino de México (later renamed Círculo Cultural Isabel la Católica)  a women's group dedicated to help el méxico de afuera (Mexicanos in the United States). With the slogan of “Toda por la Patria y el Hogar,” the organization worked to preserve Mexican culture against the threat of Americanization, and promoted an ideology of self help to working class Mexicanas on San Antonio’s Westside. The society’s statement of principle was “to procure the moral and intellectual improvement of women of modest means so as to benefit the community.” The Círculo raised money for charitable causes, organized cultural events and supported the community’s Fiestas Patrias.


In 1937 and 1938 Carolina Munguía also served as secretary and then president of the Crockett Latin American Parent-Teachers Association, an affiliate of the Spanish-speaking PTA formed to counter discrimination. During her presidency, the council provided extensive services and improvements to facilities, including opening a dining room, having showers installed, preparing lunches and medical assistance to needy students, and operating a sewing circle. They also coordinated with local businesses to provide additional services, for example working with the Mexican American Barbers Association to provide free haircuts. Carolina Munguía served as head of the Spanish Speaking Department of the Council in District 5 for the San Antonio PTA between 1940 and 1941. She also helped organize a PTA chapter at J.T. Brackenridge, and helped to exhibit the schoolwork of Spanish-speaking children from seven schools at the state PTA convention.


Around 1938 she began assisting the Asociación de la Biblioteca Mexicana, a Mexican Consulate project, and was also active in literacy work. Beginning in 1944 she worked with El Patronato, a group that supported the founding of the Universidad Autónoma de México in San Antonio. Although she lived the rest of her life in San Antonio, she never became a United States citizen. She died on May 25, 1977. Her grandson Henry Cisneros, became the first Mexican-American mayor of San Antonio.

"At 16, she graduated from high school at the Methodist Mission and became a school teacher immediately. She became an activist in the alfabetismo movement in rural literacy. She was a school principal at age 19."

— George Cisneros, grandson of Carolina Malpica Munguía

"Rómulo and Carolina began their printing shop in a small garage in 1932 at 2903 Saunders. By 1948, they had outgrown the two-room building and moved into the building at Buena Vista and Navidad. Known throughout the city as simply 'The SHOP,' Carolina and Rómulo created a business that became a center of emerging Mexican-American political campaigns and small businesses until it closed in 2012."

— George Cisneros, grandson of Carolina Malpica Munguía

 

"In late 1924, Rómulo fled Mexico after escaping prison where he was awaiting execution as a Communist and Unionist for his printing of anti-government materials. The family waited in Puebla until he had a safe haven and a job in San Antonio, TX. The photograph from early 1926 shows Carolina Munguía with her four children – Rafael, Ruben, Guillermo and Elvira – just prior to her entry into the US. She had cut their hair very short to avoid the humiliation of DDT dousing."

— George Cisneros, grandson of Carolina Malpica Munguía