Hispanic Heritage Month: Paul Rojas
Paul Rojas was born on July 14, 1934, to Mexican immigrant parents, Daniel Napoles Rojas and Adela Garcia. He grew up in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood and attended Our Lady of Guadalupe elementary school, Redemptorist and De La Salle. His given name was Raul; it was in school where he came to be known as Paul. At the time, it wasn’t uncommon for nuns to Americanize Hispanic names.
During World War II, Daniel joined the Civil Defense to help the neighborhood. Paul remembers there being at least one star in every window in Westside. Each star represented a son who was serving. After Paul graduated from high school, he joined the Navy, serving for three years during the Korean War.
Paul was interested in politics from a young age. He began his political career working in the precincts. At the time, Mexican-Americans in Kansas City had very little political power. Paul spent the better part of a decade planning a run for City Council in 1968 and still lost by 250 votes. When he was elected to the Missouri General Assembly in 1972, many of his colleagues treated him like he didn’t deserve to be there.
Paul has continued to serve his community after leaving elected office. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Guadalupe Centers Board. In 2019, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver recognized Paul on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in celebration of his 85th birthday.
- Hispanic Heritage Month