In 1974 in San Antonio, Texas, dozens of institutions formed a Sponsoring Committee that later became Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS). Beginning with small actions, COPS leaders organized to address the city's historic failure to invest in public services and infrastructure for the low-income, largely Latino "West" and "South Sides" along with the predominantly African-American "East Side."
Moving from small steps like building walkways, sidewalks and road improvements to larger efforts, leaders worked to transform the conduct of public business in San Antonio and succeeded in reversing its historic pattern of patronage. Millions of public dollars began to be invested in building or restoring drainage systems, streets, curbs, parks and libraries across the West, South and East Sides San Antonio.
The success of COPS inspired the formation of broad-based organizations of families and congregations throughout the West and Southwest US in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma and California.
In each of these organizations, campaigns for substantive local improvements work to form leaders with a broader vision not only for their neighborhood and city, but also for their state. Each campaign for sewer improvements teaches lessons of power, negotiation and compromise. Every newly paved street brings new ideas of possibilities for better homes and jobs. Every victory enlarges a vision of power, and with power, justice.
History of Texas IAF Network, Texas State Historical Association