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'He didn't forget the rest of the community': Dallas education advocate Trini Garza dies at 92

Trini Garza stands in a library as two young students work on a computer behind him.
Stella M. Chávez
Trinidad "Trini" Garza in a 2015 photo.

Education advocate Trinidad “Trini” Garza is being remembered as a “trailblazer” for his work advancing Dallas’ Hispanic community.

Garza died last week at the age of 92, his family confirmed.

In a statement, Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of Latin American Citizens, said Garza “never gave up as he fearlessly overcame barriers and opened new doors all his life for Latinos.”

“He was and will continue to inspire me, and many others blessed to know him of what we as Latinos can achieve,” Garcia said. Born in Stockdale, Texas, near San Antonio, Garza became the first Latino to serve on the Dallas school board in 1969. At the time, one in 10 Dallas students were Hispanic; now, seven in 10 are.

His work in the community earned him an appointment as the regional director of the volunteer agency ACTION under then President Jimmy Carter. Garzawas later appointed to serve as deputy regional director of the U.S. Department of Education under then President Bill Clinton.

Garza’s son, Jerome, followed in his father’s footsteps, serving as a Dallas ISD trustee for seven years. He reminisced on how his father was always out in the community and looked at those he was helping as family.

“When dad would go out and talk to immigrants, he spoke from a position of knowledge,” Jerome Garza said.

His father constantly reminded him that getting an education was important for the growth of Hispanic culture.

“He was always about education,” Jerome Garza said. “Dad was always about ‘Hey you gotta graduate. You got to go to college, you got to make it. You have to do the best. The Lord is given you talent, use them.’”

Trini Garza developed a tight bond with everyone around him through his work with the community.

He was a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Former LULAC president Hector Flores told KERA he admired Garza’s mission to increase Hispanic representation in Dallas.

“He wanted representation at all levels of government,” Flores said. “He said the only way we can do that is if we can educate ourselves and play a more prominent role in our community besides just being the worker class.”

Flores said Garza gained support from his community by being a peace maker.

He focused on desegregating public schools to keep more white families in the school system, an approach that was supported by the Dallas Mexican American activist group known as the “The Dirty Dozen.”

In 2010 Dallas ISD named the Early College High School at Mountain View College after Garza.

“He didn't forget the rest of the community…He brought others along with him,” Flores said. “And I think that's what makes for not only a better Dallas, but a better Texas and a better country.”

Zara was born in Croydon, England, and moved to Texas at eight years old. She grew up running track and field until her last year at the University of North Texas. She previously interned for D Magazine and has a strong passion for music history and art culture.