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ROSAS, MAURO

Mauro Rosas (1925–1993).
Attorney Mauro Rosas (1925–1993) served in the House of the Texas legislature from 1959 to 1963. Courtesy Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

ROSAS, MAURO (1925–1993). Mauro Rosas, Mexican American attorney and state representative, son of Justo Rosas and Julia (Gonzales) Rosas, was born in El Paso, Texas, on December 5, 1925. He attended the Lincoln School in El Paso and graduated from Bowie High School in 1943. During World War II, Rosas enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces in 1943 and served as an aerial gunner in Italy. He flew approximately fifty combat missions and accrued five battle stars and an air medal with two oak leaf clusters before he was discharged in October 1945 with the rank of staff sergeant.

After the war Rosas returned to El Paso and enrolled at Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso). While there he married Guadalupe Delarosa. The couple had two children: Mauro Jr. and Mary Margaret. Rosas graduated from Texas Western in 1949 and went on to study law at the University of Texas at Austin and the South Texas College of Law (now the Houston College of Law). He was admitted to State Bar of Texas in July 1953 and immediately went into private practice with noted El Paso attorney and judge Albert Armendariz, Sr. 

Rosas began his involvement in local politics as a Democratic Party precinct chair in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of El Paso. He attempted to run for justice of the peace on multiple occasions between 1954 and 1957 but was unsuccessful. During that time, Rosas also served as commander of the Segura-McDonald Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 5615 in El Paso and was a member of multiple statewide VFW committees. In addition, he was an officer in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council No. 8 and a member of the American Legion, the El Paso County Bar Association, the Mexican American Bar Association, and the Trial Lawyers Association. As an active member of LULAC, Rosas joined his partner Armendariz to promote the Viva Kennedy campaign and participated in the establishment of the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations (PASSO), a coalition-building umbrella organization that came out of the campaigns to elect John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. PASSO included veterans like Rosas, who came out of the war with a renewed sense of entitlement that challenged the segregation and discrimination of Mexican Americans

In 1958 Rosas decided to run for state representative of House District 105, Position 3, in El Paso. He defeated local Democratic stalwart Hal E. Dean in a primary runoff and was subsequently victorious in the general election. This victory made him the first Mexican American state representative from El Paso during the twentieth century and just the third Mexican American to enter the Texas legislature since the end of the nineteenth century. Historians have since recognized that this was the beginning of a movement that saw the return of Mexican Americans--who were largely excluded from state offices since the mid-nineteenth century--to state government. 

During his tenure in the Fifty-sixth and Fifty-seventh Texas legislatures, Rosas served on the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Election Law Committee, Revenue and Taxation Committee, and Constitutional Amendments Committee. He also chaired the Examination of Comptroller’s and Treasurer’s Accounts Committee. Rosas was largely concerned with tax legislation, election law reform, and bilingual education. He was an outspoken opponent of the state sales tax and income tax, and he opposed tax breaks for oil and gas companies. Rosas also authored, coauthored, and sponsored legislation to improve safety standards for the transportation of migrant workers, authorize bilingual preschool programs for non-English speaking children, establish a civil service system for El Paso County workers, expand Texas Western College, and increase teacher pay. In addition, he was appointed to represent the Texas House of Representatives at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the National Conference of Legislative Leaders in 1961.

Rosas left the state legislature in 1963 and returned to private practice in El Paso. He resumed his active role in the VFW and was elected a trustee of the Segura-McDonald Post No. 5615 in 1964. He was also included as an alderman on the unsuccessful election ticket of former El Paso mayor Bert Williams in 1973 but otherwise avoided electoral politics. Rosas passed away in El Paso on September 10, 1993, and was interred at Fort Bliss National Cemetery. He was later given a posthumous award from the Mexican American Bar Association of El Paso, and in 2012 the city of Socorro, Texas, renamed Bonita Park to Mauro Rosas Park in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

El Paso Herald Post, June 6, 1955; January 22, 1960; February 6, 1962. Miguel Juárez, “The Rich History of an El Paso Landmark,” Lincoln Park: El Paso’s Chicano Park, “El Corazón de El Paso” (http://lincolnparkcc.org/history/), accessed September 27, 2016. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Mauro Rosas (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=1141&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=rosas~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed September 27, 2016. John P. Schmal, “The Tejano Struggle for Representation,” The Hispanic Experience: Hispanics in Government (http://www.houstonculture.org/hispanic/tejano2.html), accessed March 20, 2015. Texas Bar Journal, November 1953.

Zachary Foust and R. Matt Abigail

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Handbook of Texas Online, Zachary Foust and R. Matt Abigail, "Rosas, Mauro ," accessed October 24, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/froef.

Uploaded on September 27, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.