Book Explores Life of Only Hispanic Governor of Arizona

Tucson resident Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford’s inspirational bilingual “flip” book for intermediate readers, Raulito: The First Latino Governor of Arizona /El primer gobernador latino de Arizona, recounts the life story of Raúl H. Castro, who was elected the first Mexican-American governor of Arizona in 1974.

As a boy growing up in Arizona in the 1920s and 1930s, Raulito experienced discrimination on a regular basis. He wasn’t allowed to ride the bus to school with his Anglo friends, so he walked four miles each way, every day. He couldn’t swim in the local pool with everyone else because Mexicans could only swim on Saturdays, the day before it was closed for cleaning. And like other Spanish-speaking children, he was regularly hit for speaking his native language at school. Fondly known as Raulito, he was one of eleven children born in the Mexican state of Sonora. His family moved to Pirtleville, Arizona, in 1918 when he was two years old. His family was poor, and their financial situation worsened when his father, a miner, died of lung disease ten years later at the age of 42.

In spite of the many obstacles he encountered, including racism and poverty, Raulito grew up to be a teacher, attorney, judge, diplomat and ultimately the first—and only—Latino governor of Arizona from 1975-1977. He also served as the US Ambassador to El Salvador from 1964-1968, to Bolivia from 1968-1969 and to Argentina from 1977-1980. This eye-opening biography will acquaint young readers with the difficulties Mexican Americans encountered in obtaining basic rights such as access to education and jobs and will motivate them to persevere in spite of difficulties.

Roni is the author of several books for children, including Miguel and the Amazing Alebrijes (Disney/Pixar, 2017); My Tata’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi tata (Cinco Puntos Press, 2015); Hip, Hip, Hooray, It’s Monsoon Day! / ¡Ajúa, ya llegó el chubasco! (Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Press, 2007); and My Nana’s Remedies / Los remedios de mi nana (Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Press, 2002).

Found out more about Roni here in our AZJL interview with her in 2017.

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