Reies López Tijerina, together with José Angel Gutiérrez and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles, formed a triumvirate of the Chicano Movement. An early leader of the emerging push for civil rights, Tijerina founded La Alianza Federal de las Mercedes in 1963 and focused his activism on land recovery in New Mexico.
The organization fought to reclaim Spanish and Mexican land grants that were supposed to be honored under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo following the U.S. war of aggression against Mexico in 1848. Tijerina's name came to dominate headlines and history after he lead an armed raid on a county courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico nearly 45 years ago, bringing widespread attention to the issues he and others struggled for.
The aging iconic figure, now 85, resides in a two-room tenement in El Paso, Texas where he takes oxygen treatments and medicine for angina. Ramón Rentería recently interviewed Tijerina for an extensive article that appeared in the El Paso Times. In it, the activist is quoted as saying, “Some people think I'm dead but the spirit of the cause still excites me.”
Dennis Bixler-Márquez, University of Texas at El Paso Chicano Studies Director (and father of the Afro-adorning lead singer of At The Drive-In) summed up Tijerina's legacy in the profile stating, “He fought to regain the lands that were lost…by hook or by crook, and paid dearly for it.”
The leader was arrested several times and imprisoned during his years organizing.
Dubbed by the press as 'King Tiger,' Tijerina is still very much alive and is making a rare appearance in Southern California, stopping by Cal State Fullerton tomorrow as part of a locally organized tour. There's limited seating still available for those interested in coming to meet the Chicano rights activist.
The Tijerina tour stop takes place from 12 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Academic Senate Chambers located inside Titan Shop on the college campus. For more information about the event or to RSVP contact Janette L. Hyder by emailing email@example.com or calling (657) 278-3920.
If seating becomes unavailable upon request, please don't plan any daring raids! See you there!