Former Chicano Activist Shares Her Favorite Tunes

Rosie Castro was a Mexican-American civil rights activist in the Chicano Movement during the 1970s. She passed down her passion for change to her children, Texas State Representative Joaquin Castro and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. For Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, Castro talks about her favorite songs.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for the occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask our guests what they're listening to these days. Today we hear from Rosie Castro. During the 1970s, she earned a name for herself as a civil rights activist working with and for other Mexican-Americans. She passed down her passion for service to her twin sons, Texas State Representative Joaquin Castro, who is heading to Congress this winter, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who made a splash as the keynote at this year's Democratic National Convention.

ROSIE CASTRO: Now, Rosie Castro talked with us during Hispanic Heritage Month about her life and her activism. But she also shared some of the songs that inspired her then and do now.

My name is Rosie Castro. I'm a great fan of Joan Baez. And one of the particular songs that I like, her rendition of it, because it is a Mercedes Sosa song, she's a Latin singer, is "Gracias a la Vida."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRACIAS A LA VIDA")

JOAN BAEZ: (Sung in foreign language)

CASTRO: Basically, that song is thanking life for all the wonderful things: the air, the sunshine, the mountains, the rivers, and everything that life has brought - both sorrows and joy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRACIAS A LA VIDA")

BAEZ: (Sung in foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUBY TUESDAY")

THE ROLLING STONES: (Singing) She just can't be chained.

CASTRO: I'm also a big Rolling Stones fan, and I have loved them since the late '60s, when they came to San Antonio when I was a teenager. One of the songs that I like in particular is "Ruby Tuesday."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUBY TUESDAY")

STONES: (Singing) Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday. Who could hang a name on you when you change with every new day? Still am gonna to miss you.

CASTRO: And I like that song because there's a lyric that says that you need to make sure that you don't let your dreams die.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUBY TUESDAY")

STONES: (Singing) Cast your dreams before they slip away.

CASTRO: I always think about how you need to have a dream, you need to have a goal to strive to for always.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUBY TUESDAY")

STONES: (Singing) Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind. Ain't life unkind?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE COLORES")

CASTRO: Finally, there's a movement song, a Spanish song, called "De Colores."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE COLORES")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in foreign language)

CASTRO: That song we sang a lot during the movement, and so there's various artists that have sung that song. And it's also sometimes sung in church, in the Catholic Church. And the reason for that is, de colores, the translation is of colors and it speaks about all the multitude of colors in the world. All the beauty of the rainbow, the beauty of animals that have different colors, of flowers. And what it was saying to us is that the life that we live is beautiful when all the different colors and people of the world are considered for who they are.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE COLORES")

MARTIN: That's civil rights activist Rosie Castro. To listen to our previous conversation, just go to our website, NPR.org, click on the Programs tab and hit TELL ME MORE.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DE COLORES")

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in foreign language)

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