Castro brothers, mother reflect on upbringing, future political careers


LBJ School Professor Victoria DeFrancesco, left, talks about Latino voters with the Castro family. Rosie Castro, second left, is a political avtivist and the mother of potential presidential candidate Julian Castro, middle, and Joaquin Castro, a U.S. Representative for Texas.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Twins Julian and Joaquin Castro have both made names for themselves in American politics — but they could not have done it without their mother, Maria del Rosario ‘Rosie’ Castro.

While Julian Castro is known as a former San Antonio city mayor, a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and now a potential presidential candidate, political activism runs in his family. Julian and Joaquin Castro, who is the current 20th district U.S. Representative for San Antonio, said they grew up inspired by their mother’s love and political work.

“We would … get dragged to rallies, speeches,” Julian Castro said. “Aside from her political activism, she was a great mom. She always made us feel loved. She always made us feel like we could accomplish things.”

Alongside their mother, the Castro brothers discussed their upbringing, the Latino potential in the upcoming midterm and 2020 presidential elections at the Harry Ransom Center on Monday. The discussion, “Making the Grade,” was presented by the Center for Mexican American Studies.

Hope for family and Latino success led all three Castros to political careers. Rosie Castro, a renowned Chicana activist, first sought political change because she saw her mother struggle without an education.

“As I looked around, I saw the inequities of my mother’s life and the life of the people she worked (with),” Rosie Castro said. “So very early on, beginning in high school, I began to realize that until (Latinos) had elected officials, until our folks were at the table creating public policy, we would not see anything change.”

This inspired Rosie to run for San Antonio’s City Council in 1971. Her campaign was unsuccessful, but Rosie’s sons became elected officials after they both graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

“If people have somebody to vote for, they’re going to vote,” Rosie Castro said. “Unfortunately, while there have been candidates in (these) past years, they haven’t been very good and nobody wants to vote for them.”

Now the Castro brothers hope to continue galvanizing the Latino vote in future elections. Julian Castro, who has previously expressed interest in running for president since the 2016 elections, said he will make the decision whether to run by the end of 2018.

For now, he said he will focus on his super political action committee, Opportunity First, to help re-elect his brother Joaquin and promote new innovative candidates.

With the current congressional gridlock on issues such as DACA and gun control, Julian Castro said he is hopeful Texas Democrats will make a comeback in the national Congress.

“I think that Ted Cruz is going to lose his senate seat,” Julian Castro said to applauding crowd members.

But just like their mother in the 1970s, Joaquin Castro said they will have to focus on encouraging more Latinos to vote.

“I think part of the challenge is the political system right now (targets) the people that already vote,” Joaquin Castro said.

Nicholas Mercado, an educational psychology graduate student, has been following the Castro brothers’ career as a San Antonio native. He thinks the Castro family can win the votes.

“It’s just really inspiring to hear their family story because it really resonates with the Latino community here,” Mercado said. “So it’s very empowering to see them and their success in both the academic and professional world.”