Rita Rodriguez-Utt

I was born in Fort Worth, the eldest of five children to a family in the Worth Heights “barrio” also known as “La Fundicion”. We were part of a community of about 150 families who had immigrated from Mexico. My maternal grandparents came to Texas to escape the 1910 Revolution. My Mother was a first generation here and was only able to attend school until the third grade. Both my parents were laborers and my Maternal Grandmother lived with us and helped raise us. We were poor but rich in family bonds and a religious life which revolved around a small Catholic Church. There were at least 35 children on our block and we had 30 cousins in the neighborhood. We did not lack playmates or the watchful eyes of the Mothers and Grandmothers to watch over us. We would roam from house to house and always got a tortilla or other treat from the occupants. Ours was an innocent childhood unaware of the poverty or deprivation we learned about later. Our parents made sure we all attended school and Mother ‘s dream was that we all graduate from High School. We all did and some of us attained college degrees. I loved school and got a Nursing degree and later a Law degree. Only when I married did I leave the “barrio” to go to my husband’s home across the country to Michigan then to Austin to attend the University of Texas. A whole new world opened up for me there as I met students from all over the world. That university time was an exciting education academically and socially. We returned to Fort Worth with a new baby and with new eyes toward our community. We became involved in local politics and our new jobs. My husband’s job then took us to Houston where a whole new experience awaited us. A big city, moving fast and loud full of a diversity of people, politics and opportunities. We experienced the recession of the 80’s and the migration out of the city. I was able to make a career change and attend law school before we left to return to Fort Worth. Back in Fort Worth as a new attorney with the District Attorney’s office, I quickly met the local bar and became involved with the community. We returned to local politics and joined local Latino and Anglo organizations. Our wish was to bring the knowledge and experience to our Latino community for our betterment. We spent a lot of energy in our community work which was both satisfying and rewarding. Now in retirement my goal is to help document, preserve and archive the contributions of the Latinos to our county while we have preserved our ethnicity, culture and values.  We invite everyone to join us in our endeavor.

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