R. P. (Bob) Sanchez Papers, 1921-2005 (bulk 1952-2005)
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. Sanchez attended high school at St. Joseph Academy in Laredo, where he was captain of the varsity basketball team and was named to the Hall of Fame as Most Loyal Student. Soon after graduation he volunteered for the U.S. Navy during World War II, where 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. In 1953, 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. 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.
Sanchez was a charter member of the American GI Forum (AGIF) from its inception in 1948, and has 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. 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. 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 in 1973 and expanded its focus to include all Latinos living in the U.S. Sanchez is a board member emeritus of NCLR.
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 John F. Kennedy among Mexican American 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 Mexican American 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 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.
Sanchez is a member of the Roman Catholic Church and served as vice 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.
Sanchez is a big-game hunter, and owns a home in Bustamante, Nuevo León, Mexico. He is a supporter of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. Sanchez and his wife, Elda Tula Barrera, have four children, Roberto 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, and 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, James DeAnda and Ed Idar Jr. 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 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 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.
Standard copyright restrictions apply.
Cite as: R. P. (Bob) Sanchez Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.
Box and Folder Inventory