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The Mexican American Experience in Texas

The Mexican American Experience in Texas
Citizenship, Segregation, and the Struggle for Equality

A historical overview of Mexican Americans’ social and economic experiences in Texas, told through the lens of their fight for civil rights, from the Spanish period to the present.

Series: The Texas Bookshelf

January 2022
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432 pages | 6 x 9 |

For hundreds of years, Mexican Americans in Texas have fought against political oppression and exclusion—in courtrooms, in schools, at the ballot box, and beyond. Through a detailed exploration of this long battle for equality, this book illuminates critical moments of both struggle and triumph in the Mexican American experience.

Martha Menchaca begins with the Spanish settlement of Texas, exploring how Mexican Americans’ racial heritage limited their incorporation into society after the territory’s annexation. She then illustrates their political struggles in the nineteenth century as they tried to assert their legal rights of citizenship and retain possession of their land, and goes on to explore their fight, in the twentieth century, against educational segregation, jury exclusion, and housing covenants. It was only in 1967, she shows, that the collective pressure placed on the state government by Mexican American and African American activists led to the beginning of desegregation. Menchaca concludes with a look at the crucial roles that Mexican Americans have played in national politics, education, philanthropy, and culture, while acknowledging the important work remaining to be done in the struggle for equality.

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Pobladores and the Casta System
  • 2. New Racial Structures: Citizenship and Land Conflicts
  • 3. Violence and Segregation, 1877–1927
  • 4. Challenging Segregation, 1927–1948
  • 5. The Path to Desegregation, 1948–1962
  • 6. Institutional Desegregation, Social Movement Pressures, and the Chicano Movement
  • 7. Mexican American Social Mobility and Immigration
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendixes
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index

Martha Menchaca is a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans and Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants: A Texas History.