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Phoenix Mexican Consulate opens exhibit for Raul Castro, first and only Hispanic governor in Arizona

Posted at 7:41 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 22:47:20-04

PHOENIX — Raul Castro helped shape Arizona’s politics. Castro was the first and still the only Latino governor in our state.

Castro served as Arizona's governor from 1975 to 1977. He passed away at 98 years of age in 2015, but his inspirational legacy is being honored at the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix with a display of historical photographs.

The exhibit will be open to the public starting Friday, Sept. 17, until Sept. 30, 2021.

The display unveiled Thursday coincides with Mexico's Independence Day.

Humble Beginnings

Raul Castro was an immigrant from Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, a border town to Arizona. As an immigrant, Castro overcame so many barriers, after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 1939 no one would hire him as a teacher because of his heritage, so he became a farmworker, a boxer, and eventually Arizona’s first and only Mexican American Governor.

As a Mexican immigrant, Castro faced discrimination but seeing the treatment of other migrants motivated him to become a lawyer. He was also the first Latino elected as Pima County Attorney, a judge and diplomat in Latin America.

“He came as ambassador to El Salvador after being governor of Arizona, he devoted himself on the weekends to help the underprivileged,” said the Honorary Consul to El Salvador, Enrique Melendez.

Melendez says, during his time in El Salvador, Castro would help the farmworkers in the "fincas" with the coffee, rice and more.

Castro was a trailblazer, the true example that anything is possible. But above all, Castro was a great father.

“He teaches you to be humble and kind and value everybody’s opinion,” stated Castro’s daughter, Beth Castro.

Castro is also being remembered as a great uncle.

“He was a really inspirational person and he really believed in education,” said Castro’s nephew, Ignacio “Nacho” Castro.

Castro’s family says he was proud of being the first Mexican American governor, but that Castro also expressed disappointment at the fact that no other Latino has been a governor of the state since he was elected in 1974.

Beth Castro still remembers her father’s passion to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

“He would go to schools, minority schools, and give little speeches to kids as young as kindergarteners to tell them, ‘Look at me, I came from nothing. You all can do the same thing.’” said Beth.