Gasca-Valenciano, Pauline (1936–2018)


By: Meagan Solomon

Type: Biography

Published: August 31, 2021

Updated: August 31, 2021


Pauline Gasca-Valenciano, Mexican American community organizer and activist, was born on December 19, 1936, in the south side barrio of La Fundición in Fort Worth, Texas, to parents José Trejo Gasca and Nicolasa (Maldonado) Gasca. She was the youngest of ten children. Because the school closest to her home, Worth Heights Elementary School in Fort Worth, was racially segregated in the 1940s, Pauline attended a separate school organized by a local church. As a Mexican American student with White teachers, she experienced racial discrimination in school until her formal education ended after the fifth grade. Her religious upbringing kept her connected to her community despite having to leave school at an early age, and she was inspired to participate in community activism by her parents. She was raised a Catholic and attended Fort Worth’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, which her parents helped establish in 1928. Growing up, she also frequently visited Mexico with her father and siblings to stay connected to her Mexican culture and history.

Pauline Gasca met Joe Franco Valenciano in the early 1950s when he came to Fort Worth from his hometown of Marlin, Texas. They married on December 8, 1953, and had four children: Jodi Perry, Suzanne Carranza, Diane Rodriguez, and Jacqueline Valenciano. Joe’s military service led the couple to Maryland and then Kentucky before they returned to Fort Worth in 1967. A Vietnam War veteran, Joe died in 1970 from injuries sustained by gun wounds and left Pauline a widow at the age of thirty-four.

She held various jobs in her lifetime and worked for the city of Fort Worth, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies (TACAA). As a community leader, she was actively involved in multiracial efforts to increase voter registration, improve labor conditions for farmworkers, and increase educational resources for students in Fort Worth. She often participated in farmworkers’ protests and boycotts and at one point was arrested with her two daughters, Diane and Jackie. She co-founded Fort Worth’s Viva Kennedy Campaign, a local outreach program dedicated to Mexican-American voter registration with the mission to elect John F. Kennedy as president (see VIVA KENNEDY-VIVA JOHNSON CLUBS). She also served on the Fort Worth Neighborhood Advisory Council as the commissioner of the Human Relations Commission and was a member of various organizations including: the American G. I. Forum Women’s Auxiliary, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations (PASSO), the Tarrant County Democratic Women’s Club, the Tejano Democrats of Tarrant County, the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County, and she founded the Miss Senorita Scholarship pageant. Pauline co-organized the annual Cesar Chavez March, which commemorates Chavez’s labor organizing and activism for farmworkers’ rights, and she helped put on the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Mexican Independence Day Parade.

Pauline Gasca-Valenciano has been honored by the National Association of Human Rights for her work in civil rights, named an Outstanding Woman of Fort Worth, and honored by the Tarrant County Democratic Woman's Club as a pioneer. She died from pneumonia on June 5, 2018, at the age of eighty-one in Fort Worth. Her funeral was held at Greenwood Funeral Homes-Greenwood Chapel, and she rests at Mount Olivet Cemetery. In 2020 the Texas playwright and activist Richard J. Gonzalez honored Gasca-Valenciano with the film Pauline and Louis to celebrate her life’s achievements for civil rights.

Magaly Ayala, “Film Honors Legacy of Fort Worth’s Pauline Gasca Valenciano,” Spectrum News 1 (https://spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/san-antonio/news/2020/11/12/film-honors-legacy-of-fort-worth-s-pauline-gasca-valenciano), accessed August 17, 2021. Sandra Enriquez, David Robles, and Max Krochmal, “Oral History Interview with Pauline Gasca-Valenciano, June 10, 2015,” Civil Rights Black and Brown Oral History Project, TCU Mary Couts Burnett Library to The Portal to Texas History (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1040192/), accessed August 17, 2021. Max Krochmal, Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2016). Milagros Peña, Latina Activists Across Borders: Women’s Grassroots Organizing in Mexico and Texas (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2007). Lane Windham, Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Categories:
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Civil Rights, Segregation, and Slavery
  • Social Workers
  • Organizations
  • Benevolent Organizations and Programs
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Politics and Government
  • Civic and Community Leaders
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Texas in the 21st Century
Places:
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Meagan Solomon, “Gasca-Valenciano, Pauline,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gasca-valenciano-pauline.

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August 31, 2021
August 31, 2021

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