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María Antonietta Berriozábal author's photo

María Antonietta Berriozábal's parents and grandparentsthe Rodriguez and the Arredondo familiescrossed the US/Mexico border for a better life in the United States in 1910 and 1915 respectively. Both families had been servants of landowners in Mexico and were very poor. These two families came together in friendship in central Texas and eventually Apolinar and Sixta married. María was born in Laredo, Texas, in 1941 just one block north of the Rio Grande. She writes that this "sealed [her] fate as a proud woman of the borderlands." Through great sacrifices her parents raised six children in the Westside of San Antonio, educated them in Catholic parochial and private schools and instilled in each of them a great love of education, a desire to excel, and a commitment to community.

At a very young age María took a leadership within her family as she helped her parents support the family. Upon high school completion she worked in secretarial positions for 15 years while she attended college at night. She became active in her teens in the civic, social and political life of San Antonio. Her jobs took her into the quasi-governmental and political life of San Antonio in the dynamic years of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981 she became the first Latina to be elected to the City Council of San Antonio, where she served for a decade. In 1991 she narrowly lost a race for Mayor of San Antonio. In 1994 she received a presidential appointment as the U.S. Representative to the Inter-American Commission on Women of the Organization of American States (OAS). She represented her country at United Nations Conferences and at the Fourth World Conference of Women in Beijing, China in 1995. For most of her adult years María Berriozábal has been committed to the empowerment of Latinas and she founded several Latina organizations.

Berriozábal's years of service on the City Council of San Antonio (1981-1991) were pivotal years for her city. Major growth decisions were made in that decade which now impact millions of lives. She was the lone voice in the wilderness objecting to votes on water, energy and growth that favored the rich and powerful. Even though she was on the losing side of these major issues, she ran for mayor in 1991 and lost by three percentage points.

In 1975 she married Dr. Manuel P. Berriozábal, a math professor at UTSA and founder of the San Antonio Pre-freshmen Engineering Program. Between 2001 and 2008 María's priority was the care of her elderly parents. One chapter in her memoir is devoted to these care-giving years. She is now a proud elder of the Arredondo and Rodriguez families, who now number in the hundreds and are contributing significantly to their community and to the nationfour generations who are the legacy of one family's great immigrant past.

Today at 71, María continues her community activism on issues of social justice, peace and the environment. She continues to work on behalf of the immigrant community and remains committed to the work of mentoring the young.

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Titles Published by Wings Press: