MEXICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION
MEXICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION. The Mexican American Business and Professional Women's Association, the first major Texas-based professional club exclusively for Mexican-American women, was founded in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio between 1972 and 1974. Earlier women's groups, such as Cruz Azul Mexicana (1920) and Ladies LULAC (1933), had been subject to men's oversight. The Dallas and San Antonio chapters of MABPWA were affiliated with the National Federation of Business Women's Clubs. MABPWA promoted Mexican-American women's career development, civic involvement, and cultural awareness. Veronica Salazar, María Rodríguez Berriozábal, and Luz M. Escamilla were leaders in San Antonio, and Escamilla served also in Austin and Dallas. She especially wanted women to influence public policies affecting Mexican Americans' housing, education, and equal-employment rights. Other early MABPWA leaders were Mary Helen Alvarado and Martha Cotera.
MABPWA activities have varied with the interests of the cities. In San Antonio, Berriozábal served on the San Antonio city council. In Austin, Martha Cotera, a feminist author also affiliated with the Raza Unida party, supported public forums for political candidates, provided public testimony on women's issues and affirmative action, and lobbied city officials to increase the representation of Mexican Americans on local boards and commissions. In addition, soon after its start, the Austin group promoted the establishment of the Mexican American Library at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the University of Texas at Austin. It also condemned police violence alleged in the case of José Campos Torres in Houston in 1977 and pressed for protection of Mexican Americans' civil rights. In Dallas MABPWA focused on self-development, rape prevention, and employment workshops for its members. It also ran an annual scholarship fund, set up charitable projects for needy children and families, and organized celebrations of September 16, the Mexican day of independence (see FIESTAS PATRIAS). In 1976 the Austin MABPWA began an annual Semana de la Mujer Chicana ("Chicana's Week"), an event of cultural activities and career-exploration seminars that culminates in a banquet to honor outstanding Hispanic women in the community. This project has been endorsed by city and county officials, as well as women in LULAC and Mujeres Artistas del Suroeste. The development of Hispanic girls has become a strong interest for MABPWA. In Dallas the organization has worked in local girls' clubs, and in Austin the group sponsors a SIS (Stay-in-School) mentor project at O. Henry Middle School that has been lauded by local school officials.
Martha Cotera Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin.