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Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551

Filemon B. Vela Papers Donated to Benson Latin American Collection

Posted: August 9, 2011

The Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas announces the opening of the personal archive of noted Texas jurist Filemon B. Vela, a highly respected judge, community leader, and proponent of education who served on the federal bench as the culmination of a distinguished legal career.

The judge's remarkable career is recorded through correspondence, court orders and opinions, historical clippings, and audiovisual recordings. Vela acted as local counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) in the 1970 civil rights case Lucinda Escalante v. La Feria Independent School District, a landmark  in establishing the pursuit of due process by governmental bodies.

A Harlingen native, Vela attended Texas Southmost College in Brownsville and the University of Texas at Austin, pursuing his legal studies at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. Vela was also active in his community beyond his legal and judicial work, in particular as a supporter of youth programs that encouraged students to avoid drugs and stay in school. In honor of his contributions to education, a middle school in Brownsville is named after him.

The Filemon B. Vela archive was donated to the Benson by Judge Vela's widow, Blanca Sanchez Vela.

For the full story and the link to a detailed guide on the Vela archive, see the Public Affairs website.

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