R. P. (Bob) Sanchez Papers, 1921-2005, 2007, 2011-2015
Roberto P. (Bob) Sanchez, trial lawyer, civil rights attorney and political activist, was born on August 20, 1927 in Laredo, Texas. His father, Trinidad P. Sanchez Santos, who worked as a taxi driver in Laredo, and his mother, Catalina Guerra Peña Sanchez, were born in Mexico, in the states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, respectively. Mr. Sanchez's father attended school through the third grade in Mexico and his mother never attended school. Sanchez attended high school at St. Joseph Academy in Laredo, on an athletic and campus work free of tuition and costs program, where he was captain of the varsity basketball team, engaged in all high school sports, and was named to the Hall of Fame as Most Loyal Student. Right after graduation at age 17, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, after two of his close friends had been killed in combat. He served primarily in the Office of U.S. Naval Intelligence in Washington, DC. He attended the University of Texas at Austin on the GI Bill, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1950. Sanchez, who had been driving a truck in Houston all day, attended law school at night, and received his law degree in 1956. Thereafter he scored in the upper twelve percent of those who passed the exam. Sanchez graduated from the South Texas Law School in Houston with a J.D. degree. He moved to McAllen, Texas shortly after and has practiced law there for over fifty years. Sanchez is a trial attorney, and also worked as the chief consulting attorney for the Mexican Consulate at McAllen. He was the head counsel in several Mexican American civil rights cases. He was lead attorney for the Elsa-Edcouch High School case in 1968, successfully representing a group of Hispanic students expelled for participating in a walk-out to protest discriminatory practices at their school. He was second chaired by his friend James De Anda, who later became a U.S. District Judge serving as the senior judge of the Southern District of Texas. The case was given national prominence when it was publicized by one of the nationwide networks. In addition, Sanchez was one of the founding attorneys of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and of Texas Rural Legal Aid.
Mr. Sanchez was a charter and original organizing member of the American GI Forum (AGIF) from its inception in 1948, and served as the organization's National Legal Advisor, and chairman of the Committee on Migratory Labor. AGIF is a national organization founded to assist Latino veterans who were denied the benefits owed to them by law. AGIF fought discrimination at school, work, and the ballot box, and sought to improve the welfare of Latinos living in poverty, particularly migrant farm workers. Dr. Hector P. García, founder of AGIF, was a close friend of Sanchez, served as Sanchez's best man at his wedding. Sanchez represented AGIF at the U.S. Senate in 1959, when he testified in front of the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor on the low wages and extremely poor living conditions of migrant farm workers. Sanchez also served on the United Farm Workers' Texas Committee on Migrant Farm Workers, and on the Federal Advisory Committee on Farm Workers. In 1968, he was one of the organizers of the Southwest Council of La Raza, an advocacy group for Mexican Americans. The group changed its name to National Council of La Raza (NCLR) in 1973 and expanded its focus to include all Latinos living in the U.S. Sanchez is a Board Member Emeritus of NCLR.
Mr. Sanchez also has been active in national and local political campaigns. He was a member, with Dr. García and other AGIF officials, of Viva Kennedy, an organization that built support for the successful presidential political campaign of John F. Kennedy among Latino voters in Texas and throughout the Southwest. After the election in 1960, the Viva Kennedy clubs continued their political advocacy of Mexican American civil rights and evolved into the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO). PASSO promoted Latino political candidates and provided a voice for the interests of Mexican Americans on issues such as domestic and immigrant labor. Sanchez was Southern Regional Chairman of PASSO in Texas, as well as President of the Young Democrats of Hidalgo County. He served as a political advisor for U.S. Senator Ralph Yarborough in several campaigns during the 1960s, and helped organize the National Conference on Poverty held in Arizona in 1965. Sanchez was active in the Texas' Democratic Rebuilding Committee, a group of liberal Democrats who advocated voting for Republicans in the 1966-1970 elections to defeat conservative "Dixiecrats" like Governors Allan Shivers and Preston Smith. In 1976, he was selected for the federal Hispanic Advisory Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. Sanchez was an executive member of McAllen's War on Poverty Committee in 1965, and was the first president of the city’s Good Government League from 1984-1985.
Mr. Sanchez is a member of the Roman Catholic Church and served as president and board of directors member for the National Council for the Spanish Speaking, the lay arm of the Bishops' Committee for the Spanish Speaking. Now the Bishops Committee for Hispanic Affairs, it was founded by Archbishop Robert E. Lucey of San Antonio in 1945 to involve the church in improving the social and spiritual welfare of Mexican Americans in Texas. According to Mr. Sanchez, the Archbishop once said that the only true friend he had in the Rio Grande Valley was Bob Sanchez.
Bob Sanchez is a big-game hunter, and owns a vacation home in Bustamante, Nuevo León, Mexico. He is a supporter of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. He and his wife, Elda Tula Barrera, have four children, Robert Jr., Sonia, Richard and Edward.
Correspondence, printed material, photos and written works document the life and work of Roberto P. (Bob) Sanchez. The material is arranged in six series, Personal/Biographical, Correspondence, Organizations, Writings, Collected Materials, and Photographs. Much of Sanchez's original filing scheme has been preserved, especially in the Collected Materials section.
The first series, Personal and Biographical, includes clippings, photographs, Sanchez's biographical data or CV, as well as some printed material such as greeting cards, invitations and programs and certificates.
Correspondence, the second series, is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, except for letters to and from family members, which are filed at the beginning of the series. Notable correspondents Hector P. Garcia, Dr. Ramiro R. Casso, U.S. District Judge James DeAnda and Ed Idar Jr., who was his law partner, are filed separately.
The third series, Organizations, consists of material related to groups Sanchez was associated with, such as the American GI Forum (AGIF). AGIF-related correspondence, clippings, printed material, notes and photographs are filed here. Viva Kennedy, the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations (PASSO), National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), and the Democratic Rebuilding Committee are among the organizations represented.
Series four, Writings, consists of news releases, speeches, and other written works, such as Sanchez's accounts of big game hunting in East Africa and a history of the Sanchez family.
Collected Materials, the fifth series, is composed of printed material gathered by Sanchez on subjects that he took an interest in, for example Catholicism and social justice, farm labor and tort reform. There are articles and other materials about close friend Dr. Hector P. Garcia, founder of AGIF (correspondence between them is filed under AGIF Correspondence). Articles about political campaigns spanning the years 1952-2005 are filed in this series, as well as clippings on other subjects Sanchez was personally associated with, such as the Bracero and Commuter Worker programs, and the Elsa-Edcouch demonstration case. A file of quotations kept by Sanchez illustrates his point of view and the principles by which he has lived and worked.
The final series, Photographs, documents Sanchez's involvement with many organizations and events. The Benson Collection holds these photographs in electronic format only. More information is available from the Benson Collection archivist.
Additions: includes Mr. Sanchez's resume, correspondence, memoranda sent to family and friends, photographs as well as certificates and other recognition information. Material donated in 2006-2007 and 2011-2015.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: R.P. (Bob) Sanchez Papers, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
Accession numbers: 2005-34, 2017-29
Further materials are expected for this collection.
Box and Folder Inventory