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Tony Bonilla papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-35
The Tony Bonilla papers comprise approximately fifty linear feet of materials. These items cover a range of topics including his 1965 term in the Texas Legislature (59th legislative session), the Texas Constitutional Revision Commission, his campaigns for the State Legislature, his extensive LULAC activities from the 1960s to the 1980s, the LULAC Feria de los Flores, LULAC national conventions, LULAC’s National Education Service Centers, his actions as LULAC District and State Director, Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign of 1984, Texas prison conditions, the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, and other subjects.


  • 1960s-1980s

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for images of publication quality should be directed to


50 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Longtime Corpus Christi attorney and civic leader Tony Bonilla was born in Calvert, Texas, on March 2, 1936. After moving to Corpus Christi, he attended Del Mar College and graduated from Baylor University. He received his law degree from the University of Houston. A senior partner in Bonilla and Chapa, he specializes in personal injury litigation.

Among his many accomplishments, Tony Bonilla was elected in 1964 as the first Hispanic State Representative from Nueces County.

In the legislature, he served on the Banks and Banking, Criminal Jurisprudence, Education, Judicial Districts, and Public Health Committees. He was co-author of a constitutional amendment providing for abolishing the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting in the Lone Star State.

Bonilla was appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe to the Coordinating Board for Texas Colleges and Universities and was a member of the 1973 Texas Constitutional RevisionCommittee.

Like his brothers William and Ruben, he is one of the most influential LULAC leaders in that organization’s history and helped to keep Corpus Christi Council No. 1 at the center of LULAC activities. Tony Bonilla was State LULAC Chair of the Year for the United States and 1971-1972 State and National LULAC Man of the Year. He was twice National President of LULAC being elected at the 1981 national convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico and at the 1982 convention held in San Antonio, Texas. William, Ruben, and Tony are a unique LULAC family as all three brothers have held the national presidency.

On the local level, Tony Bonilla has held numerous civic positions. He has long been an articulate spokesman of community concerns, especially as they relate to Corpus Christi’s sizeable Hispanic population.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-5973 (Fax)