Frustrated by the lack of attention from local Democrats, Ms. Castro and her friends eventually formed a third party, La Raza Unida, in an effort to get Chicanos elected to public office. Ms. Castro ran for City Council as one of the party’s candidates.
She lost, but her twin sons went on to unquestionable success, enrolling at Stanford University as undergraduates, then at Harvard Law School and eventually reaching the highest echelons in politics: Mr. Castro was appointed to Mr. Obama’s cabinet, while his brother, Joaquin Castro, serves in Congress.
During the 1990s and 2000s, while the Castros were pursuing their political ambitions, there were significant improvements for many Latinos: more attended college, more were elected to public office, more gained economic and cultural power.
During his time on the San Antonio City Council and as mayor, in a city which is now 60 percent Latino, Mr. Castro maintained a reputation as a reserved pragmatist — very different from the kind of activist politics his mother adopted for decades.
Like his peers, he built a career that was shaped not only by where he had come from but also by the opportunities he had been able to access.
“We were all part of that first generation who had access to opportunity,” said Lorena Gonzalez, a California state legislator who attended Stanford around the same time as Mr. Castro. “But we suffered from our own privilege — we can have all these degrees, we can all go to law school, but we’re still seen as a Mexican who doesn’t belong here.”
Many in the Latino community did feel a brief sense of progress and optimism after the election of Mr. Obama, who promised immigration reform during his first months in office, said Representative Ruben Gallego, a Democrat from Arizona who graduated from Harvard and served in the Marines.