Kika de La Garza Oral History Interviews
Kika de La Garza

About the Project

In late 2008, the UTPA Library began planning a series of oral history interviews with former Congressman Kika de la Garza. The interviews were partially funded through a generous gift from The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation Board Member Edward Muñoz. The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Texas under 26 USC §501(c)(3). Since 1982, the Foundation has raised, managed and invested funds for charitable, educational and scientific purposes to benefit Pan American University and, after its merger with the University of Texas System in 1989, The University of Texas-Pan American.

In July of 2009, the first interview with Kika was scheduled. UTPA Archivist Diane Tyink, Joe Reyna (LAN administrator) and Adela Cadena (Special Collections Library Assistant) made numerous trips to Kika's home in McAllen, Texas to film the interviews. During 2009 and 2010, nine interviews were recorded, covering topics ranging from Kika's early life and growing up in South Texas, to his work in the Texas Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives (1965-1996). Working with both Kika and his wife, Lucille de la Garza, these interviews are now ready for viewing.

If you have any questions or comments about any of the interviews, please contact the Archives at or 956-665-2990.


Kika de la Garza and Diane Tyink, McAllen, Texas, October 2009.

From left to right: Adela Cadena (Special Collections Library Assistant);
Kika de la Garza; Diane Tyink (Archivist) and Joe Reyna (LAN
Administrator and videographer for project).

Video Interviews

  • July 16, 2009

    Early childhood, family and other relatives; the name “Kika”; early childhood memories; enlisted in Navy; Army service; Korean War; 2nd Lieutenant in Army; after the Army; law degree; age at election to Texas State Legislature; Committees in Texas State Legislature; speaking Spanish in Texas State Legislature; money for campaign for Congress; running for Congress. Length of Interview: 38:37.

  • August 5, 2009

    1964 U.S. Congressional election; funding for 1964 U.S. Congressional race; issues in 1964 race; mentors in Congress; War on Poverty during Johnson’s administration; Great Society programs; 1967-68 conservatives in Congress; change from Johnson to Nixon Administrations; missing politics. Length of Interview: 44:53.

This short video (8:40 minutes) includes excerpts from three of former Congressman Kika de la Garza's oral history interviews.
  • Aug 26, 2009 

    Richard Nixon's Presidency; the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy; the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970; Watergate in 1972; Nixon's resignation; 1974 'Watergate babies' (new reform minded members of Congress); President Ford's pardon of Nixon; and more. Length of Interview: 1:03:36.

  • Oct 8, 2009 

    Kika's general committee work and Rio Grande Valley issues; Agriculture Committee work and agriculture in the Valley (Ruby Red Grapefruit); Falcon Dam; international agricultural work; Subcommittee Environment and Oceanography and Subcommittee Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation; 1970s gas rationing in the Valley; Daylight Savings Time; 1972 Rural Development Act; President Jimmy Carter; and more. Length of Interview: 56:43.

  • Oct 14, 2009 

    The 1980s; President Reagan; agriculture funding problems; President Jimmy Carter's loss to Reagan; the election of Reagan and the 'rise of the right'; the Farm Bill of 1985; the Fall of the Berlin Wall; Agriculture trips abroad (Russia, Czechoslovakia, etc.); relationship with John Block (Reagan's Secretary of Agriculture); 1986 earthquake in Mexico and U.S. role in aid; Contra aid in Nicaraugua; VA Hospital in the Valley; and more. Length of Interview: 55:19.

  • Oct 22, 2009 

    Presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; NAFTA and GATT; Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin; 1994 Rio Grande Valley designated as 'Empowerment Zone'; development of Valley infrastructure and NAFTA; relationship with Mike Espy (Secretary of Agriculture); 1994 mid-term elections, partisanship and decision to retire; and more. Length of Interview: 42:44

  • May 19, 2010

    Discusses major influences as a child growing up; schools and sports growing up; interest in becoming a lawyer; family involvement in politics; run for Texas Legislature while still in the Army; winning Texas Legislature seat; where Kika met his wife Lucille; why enlisted in Navy and shift from Navy to Army; Korean War; artillery in both Navy and Army; transition from student/military life to Texas State Legislature. Length of Interview: 46:47.

  • May 26, 2010

    Work in Texas State Legislature, including Committees; first elected to Texas State Legislature; mentors in the Texas State Legislature; Harris Hawk legislation; Regan-de la Garza bill; Texas state program pre-school English; U.S. district vs. State district; O.A. Terry, campaign manager for U.S. Congress; campaign and radio broadcasts in South Texas; campaign issues in 1964 Congressional race; Kennedy program in 1965; federal funds to rural areas; move to Washington D.C. after Congressional election; Celia Hare Martin; mentors in U.S. Congress; relationship with Lyndon Johnson; impact of War on Poverty in Valley; and Hurricane Beulah. Length of Interview: 59:38.

  • October 1, 2010

    Discusses Agriculture Committee, becoming Chair of that Committee; Screwworm Eradication Program; Moore Air Force Base; funding for the Screwworm Eradication Program. Length of Interview: 21:57.