Raúl H. Castro was the first Hispanic governor of Arizona, ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia, and Argentina, lawyer, judge, and teacher. Born in Mexico in 1916, he moved with his family to a small mining community in Arizona in 1926. His earliest memories include collecting cactus fruit in the desert for food. His childhood served as a metaphor for Mexican and American attitudes of mutual suspicion and distrust.
Castro, nevertheless, defied the odds and, thanks to an athletic scholarship, entered Arizona State Teachers College where he graduated in 1939. By then an American citizen, he worked for the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer at Agua Prieta, Sonora and then entered the University of Arizona College of Law. He was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1949. After practicing law in Tucson for several years, he became deputy Pima County attorney. In 1954, he was elected county attorney and served until 1958, when he became a Pima County Superior Court Judge.
President Lyndon Johnson appointed Castro U.S. ambassador to Salvador in 1964 and to Bolivia in 1969. Castro was elected governor on the Democratic Party ticket in 1974 but an appointment as ambassador to Argentina interrupted his term.
Raul Castro's story suggests much about the human spirit, the ability to overcome institutional and personal prejudice, and the hope inherent in the American dream.