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MEZA, MARÍA DE SOCORRO GONZÁLEZ [CHOCO]

María de Socorro González Meza (1952–2016).
Political activist Choco Meza played a prominent role in the Democratic party in Bexar County as well as statewide and nationally. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MEZA, MARÍA DE SOCORRO GONZÁLEZ [CHOCO] (1952–2016). María de Socorro “Choco” González Meza, political activist, was born in Zaragoza, Coahuila, Mexico, on May 16, 1952, to Alfonso Rivera and Josefa (Galindo) González. At the age of three, she immigrated with her family to Texas and was reared in Uvalde and Eagle Pass. In the early 1970s Meza relocated to San Antonio and enrolled at St. Mary’s University. She majored in physical education and graduated in 1977.

Meza became involved in local politics during her student days at St. Mary’s. She joined with Rosie Castro, also a political activist, and Charles Cotrell, professor at the school, to create a plan for ten single-member city council districts that was adopted in 1977. That same year Meza accepted an offer from Willie Velásquez, founder of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, to serve as the organization’s national research director. In subsequent years, Meza served as senior vice president of the San Antonio Housing Authority, as executive director for the YWCA, and executive director for the Rockefeller Foundation project Partnership for Hope. In 1992 Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros recruited her as deputy assistant secretary of intergovernmental relations. In this role, she was also the liaison to the Clinton administration at the White House.

Meza served as a member of the Democratic National Committee and the State Democratic Executive Committee and as chair of the Bexar County Democratic Party. In 2011 President Barack Obama appointed her to the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Meza was highly regarded for her dedication to democratic principles. “Social justice and equal rights burned in her heart,” said former State Senator Leticia Van de Putte. Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros considered her “a tireless force for change.” Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic party chairman, recalled, “Texas families live with more opportunity today because of the service, advocacy, and fierce willpower of Choco Meza.” Her achievements were noted in the Washington Post, where she was called one of the “abuelas” of her Mexican American community in Texas for her contributions. When asked by the Post reporters, “what it meant to be an American,” she replied, “Just look at my family. That is an American success story.” Her family’s accomplishments included her and all four of her siblings graduating from college, and her son and daughter becoming lawyers.

Meza had in recent years served as campaign manager and chief of staff for San Antonio city council member Shirley Gonzáles. A longtime supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Meza was a major volunteer and supporter with the Clinton presidential campaign effort in San Antonio in 2016. She first met the presidential nominee when Clinton registered voters in the city’s poorest areas in the 1970s. Meza’s interest in helping people in whom she believed extended to assisting with their personal needs. Julián and Joaquín Castro, the sons of her activist colleague and friend Rosie Castro, benefited from her generosity. She helped raise funds to support their Stanford University education and provided yet another personal touch by ensuring they had luggage for a decade, as they pursued their goals. Both brothers became politicians, serving in different capacities at the state and federal levels. 

Meza was married to Daniel S. Meza for forty-four years; with him, she reared a son and daughter, Danny and Ivalis. She died in San Antonio on October 9, 2016, after a short battle with cancer. A Mass of Resurrection was held for Meza on October 17, 2016, at San Fernando Cathedral, and she was buried at the San Fernando Cemetery No. 2. Upon Meza’s untimely death, Hillary Clinton recognized her as a “historic figure in Texas politics (and) beloved friend on our team.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Jeremy T. Gerlach, “Choco Meza, longtime West Side activist, dead at 64” (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/San-Antonio-Democratic-Party-stalwart-organizer-9958462.php.), accessed February 1, 2017. San Antonio Express-News, October 14, 2016. Sam Sanchez, “Choco Meza, Tireless Democratic Party Activist, Dies After Battle With Cancer,” San Antonio Current, October 10, 2016 (http://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2016/10/10/choco-meza-tireless-democratic-party-activist-dies-after-battle-with-cancer), accessed June 18, 2017.

Teresa Palomo Acosta

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Handbook of Texas Online, Teresa Palomo Acosta, "Meza, MarÍa De Socorro GonzÁlez [Choco] ," accessed November 22, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmeza.

Uploaded on June 20, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.