Honoring Santos Rodriguez

July 24, 2018

Mid-May of this year, I discovered a series of contact sheets and photographs in the Andy Hanson collection here at the DeGolyer Library. Hanson was a photographer for the Dallas Times Herald. I didn’t know what I was looking at except that the pictures were of a demonstration. I could see that in some frames of the contact sheets, people were carrying banners that read, “March of Justice for Santos Rodriguez.” Unaware of the event, I Googled it and found that the images were of the demonstration in Dallas July 28, 1973 after the brutal and senseless murder of a child, 12 year old Santos Rodriguez, by a Dallas policeman. The images are moving and interesting documents of that important multicultural demonstration led by Hispanics. Sometimes called a race riot, it is the only such demonstration in the history of Dallas, although many such events were happening at the time all over the U.S.

In the early morning hours of July 24, policemen thought they saw Santos and his brother leave the scene of a vandalized gas station vending machine in the Little Mexico neighborhood. Police went to their home, handcuffed the boys and put them in their squad car. The boys denied being involved with the robbery.

Then, Officer Darrell L. Cain decided to play Russian-roulette, aiming the gun at Santos’s head. He pulled the trigger once — nothing; the second time, a bullet struck Santos’s head killing him as his brother, now drenched in blood, watched helplessly. Cain was tried for murder and was given a five year sentence by an all white jury. He only served two and a half years. It was later found that the two boys had nothing to do with the vending machine theft.

Florentino A. Ramirez, Rudy Sanchez and Rene Martinez and Demonstrators Link Arms During March.

Four days after Santos was murdered, thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Dallas. The march started at the Kennedy Memorial and proceeded east on Main Street to the old City Hall.

News Crews and Demonstrators Outside Old City Hall, March of Justice.

The demonstration was peaceful until a second group of marchers showed up – they were younger, angrier and some intoxicated. Then the march turned into a riot with random looting and vandalism.


Demonstrator Lights Police Motorcycle on Fire, March of Justice for Santos Rodriguez.

Police and Demonstrators Clash, the March of Justice for Santos Rodriguez.

Today, July 24, 2018 is the forty-fifth anniversary of Santos’s death. There have been events to commemorate his life and murder, and an extraordinary new documentary film, “Santos Vive” by Byron Hunter to illustrate the historical facts with important interviews and period film footage and still photographs. There are plans for the city of Dallas to create a Santos memorial to honor him and the accomplishments of the city’s Mexican American community. A Santos Rodriguez public art project is underway for Pike Park on Harry Hines Boulevard located in the old Little Mexico neighborhood, and there are thoughts of changing the name of the park to Santos Rodriguez Park as a lasting memorial.

Anne E. Peterson

Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library, SMU

Note SMU scholarship: The Santos Rodriguez Memorial Endowed Scholarship at SMU promotes Human Rights education for emerging leaders and honors the memory of a young boy whose life ended far too soon. Scholarship funds provide support to qualified students studying Human Rights at SMU. As one of only seven institutions in the nation to offer an undergraduate degree in Human Rights, SMU is dedicated to nurturing a new generation of ethical and effective leaders. https://www.smu.edu/Dedman/Giving/SantosRodriguezScholarship

Archives of the Women of the Southwest 25th Anniversary Celebration

June 8, 2018

On Sunday, March 11, 2018, the Advisory Board of the Archives of the Women of the Southwest celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the board with a celebration at the DeGolyer Library at SMU. The Advisory Board was created in 1993 to:

  • Promote the visibility and scholarly value of archival material related to women in the Southwestern regional area of the United States
  • Encourage the use of the archives as an important resource for research
  • Advise on collection development for the archives
  • Coordinate fundraising to assure continuance of an endowment sufficient to maintain the archival collection
  • Raise public awareness of the need of the archives


Elisabet Ney’s Formosa Studio, ca. 1892-1907. Part of Edmund Montgomery and Elizabet Ney papers.

Major accomplishments over the 25-year life of the board include The Remember the Ladies! Campaign which raised $1,000,000 to endow an archivist position dedicated solely to supporting the collection.


The Archives of Women of the Southwest includes records of notable women leaders who acted as pioneers in social and political reform movements, businesswomen who paved the way for future generations to succeed in the workforce, influential women in the arts and voluntary service, as well as papers recording the daily lives of women in the 19th and 20th centuries.


At the event marking the 25th anniversary, Russell Martin, Director of the DeGolyer Library, read from love letters between teenagers Mattabel Lovett and Richard Spiller, 1903-1904, in Gray County and Lipscomb County, Texas. Mattabel’s correspondence was intelligent and lively, reflecting an independent spirit as well as the cultural attitudes of the time and place.  The collection of Lovett’s letters is one of over 300 accessions in the Archives of Women of the Southwest. The Archives is well positioned to collect, preserve, and provide access to even more primary materials in women’s history over the next 25 years.



June 6, 1968 – June 6, 2018: the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

June 6, 2018

“Barefoot and Boss.” Barefoot Sanders and Robert F. Kennedy, Dallas, Nov. 14, 1961. Andy Hanson photograph, DeGolyer Library, SMU






Fifty years ago, like his brother President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy – Bobby – was murdered by an assassin’s bullet.  The year 1968 was a tempestuous time in America. The Vietnam War continued, and the anti-war movement peaked. Martin Luther King had been killed earlier in the year, igniting riots across the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming election. Robert Kennedy, former U.S. Attorney General, stepped up to a swell of support, running for national office. He was perceived by some to be the only man in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by minorities for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause.



“For a whole generation of progressive political activists and journalists, there was a glimmer of something different in RFK than the more conventional politics of his brothers Jack and Ted — an ability to both put together a mind-bending coalition of minority and white-working-class voters that would blow up the racial politics the GOP was beginning to aggressively embrace by 1968 and to keep the fraying New Deal majority alive.” New York Magazine, June 5, 2018


Quotes from Robert F. Kennedy:

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” 

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

The picture above is from the Andy Hanson photographs collection. Hanson worked for the Dallas Times Herald for thirty years until it closed in 1991. He photographed and actively documented the theater, opera, musical, and social events in the city. Included in the collection are many photographs and negatives of famous, high profile, politicians, celebrities, and newsworthy people in Dallas.

For some Hanson images online, see: https://sites.smu.edu/cdm/cul/han/


Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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