Irma L. Rangel
Civic and Volunteer Leadership
Irma L. Rangel entered politics to give voice to the voiceless. She accomplished this by becoming the first Hispanic woman ever to be elected to the Texas State Legislature and by serving as vice chair of the House Judicial Affairs Committee. Rangel became a leading advocate for public policies to better the lives of women, children and minorities.
Representative Rangel passed legislation extending the absentee voting system, providing educational and employment programs to mothers with dependent children, and creating centers for victims of domestic violence. She accomplished her goal to bring high-quality, accessible education to south Texas at both public and higher education levels.
Representative Rangel was born in Kingsville in 1931. Her father was one of the community’s most successful business and political leaders, and her mother owned a dress shop. From their parents’ examples, Rangel and her sisters learned the importance of the struggle for a better life “not just for ourselves, but for all people,” she said.
She graduated from Texas A&M University in 1952 and taught school in Texas and California, and in Caracas, Venezuela. After 14 years of teaching, Representative Rangel entered law school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. After receiving her law degree, she served as a board member for the Corpus Christi Y.W.C.A. and for Family Counseling Services. She developed deep convictions about helping women and minorities in her community, and in 1976 she began a successful grass-roots campaign for state representative. She credited her victory largely to the support of women migrant workers.
Irma L. Rangel died March 18, 2003.