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Brown Vs Board Of Education and The Chicano Movement

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    The book Brown, Not White starts off by explaining the experiences of Mexicans in Houston, Texas. While Mexican had different experiences in other parts of the United States, the Mexican Community went through many obstacles leading to the Chicano Movement and school integration for Mexican-origin students. The book is broken down into three separate parts; Origins and Development, 1900-60, Rumblings and Early School Activism,1968-70 and The Struggle for Recognition, 1970-72.

    Origins and development begin with the diversification and differentiation of Mexican families increasing in population within Houston, Texas from the years 1880 to 1930. Because the border of Mexico was closer to Houston, Texas, many Mexicans families would try to build their homes in Houston. At the same time, cheap labor was needed to help the economy. So, Mexican would take any job that was offered to them and would work in the railroads, or oil fields. Many Mexican had decided to leave their country for the United States when the Mexican Revolution had begun to push out their people into resettling in Houston because of Mexico’s economic and political developments. When the Mexican families had crossed into Houston they began to try and stick together with their people, they started to form barrios. Barrios were neighborhoods where all the people were basically Mexican- origin people. The first barrios were called El Segundo barrio which was in the Second Ward and El Crisol located in Denver Harbor near the South Pacific Railroads. Since all the Mexican families were living in barrios together, they were able to create organizations to help the needs of the community. The organizations helped the community by forming ethnic businesses, creating their own newspaper, helping to create businesses and their own identity in the United States. The most important organization that was created out of the seventeen, between the years on 19078 -1950 was the League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC. The organization LULAC best helped Mexicans in creating their Mexican American Identity in Houston. The purpose for LULAC was to integrate the Mexican American people and culture within the rest of the United States. They began by celebrating holidays like Cinco de Mayo, creating a Mexican community newspaper, and building churches to practice Catholic religion. For instance, the famous first church was Our Lady of Guadalupe church where Mexican Americans were able to practice their religion since they were wanted in Anglo churches. Out of all the important elements that helped Mexican Americans with where they stood in society was getting an education. By having an education, Mexican Americans were able to strengthen their political and social climate by creating a bilingual identity.

    There were three different forms of educational institutions during the twentieth century was taught to Mexican children. Mexican children either went to Catholic schools, private schools or received a public education. The problem with these educational institutions was that none of the teachers who taught at these school new any of the Spanish speaking languages. Teachers viewed Mexican students as inferior and denied them any accommodations to learn properly because they were afraid that with the proper education Mexican American students would one day use the knowledge they had learned to fight back. The schools would also refuse to allow Mexican students to speak in Spanish while in school and would deny the students to their cultural heritage so that they could break down the students from what they saw as bad habits. Schools went through a “subtraction” where they tried to subtract anything that was related to Mexican culture, whether it was the Spanish language, cultural heritage links, or any curriculum that was about Mexican history. Schools required for students to replace their heritage by only speaking English, only practicing protestant religion values and having an Anglo like mindset. I found this section of the book to be very interesting because it goes back to how the Native American students were treated once they were sent to schools and were denied their culture and ethnic values because the Anglo way was inferior to other ethnicities. It was no surprise that students would end up falling behind and not getting the proper education that was needed for them to succeed in America. In the beginning, schools began to segregate Mexican American students from Anglo students, as they began to enroll in Elementary schools throughout the community. Segregation began to progress as more student began to enroll in Secondary schools and High school. In addition, to the segregation of Mexican students in schools, the school officials, in the beginning, had also denied hiring any Mexican Americans to become administrators, teachers, or counselors to help the children. It wasn’t until the late 1940’s that Mexican Americans were being hired as teachers in schools. According to the author of the book Guadalupe San Miguel, no clear reason has been found to indicate why public-school officials began to hire Mexican American teachers. It is possible that the increasing number of Spanish speaking children in the schools created the conditions for their hiring, but more research needs to be conducted in this area. Within time, a Mexican American was voted into the administration board, but he was still subjected to mistreatment by the other administrators.

    Political involvement by Mexican people began around 1907 when they decided to get involved with the civic and social affairs of their community. The reason that the Mexicans were only involved only in the civic and social affairs of their people was that in Houston they were not allowed to have a vote in the electorally. Since Mexicans didn’t speak English, Houston had barriers to deny them the right to vote. Mexicans political involvement was based on the urbanization and immigrant leadership within the community that became known as the immigrant generation. The goal for the immigrant generation was to keep doing what they did in Mexico until conditions in their country improved enough for them to go back. This group didn’t want anything to do with becoming an American citizen. The immigration generation wanted to live with the mindset of a Mexicanist, but once the new generation was born in the United States, they began to have different views. Being born in the United States made the new generation want to follow a new identity as a Mexican American. Mexican Americans wanted to combine both Mexican and American cultural values and saw themselves more as Anglos rather than Mexicans. It was this Mexican American generation that created the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). The goal was to help Mexicans to integrate and try to get involved in the politics of voting and learning from each other on becoming better citizens for the community. The Latin American Club (LAC) was similar to LULAC, but their primary focus was to protect the Latin American Citizens first from any mistreatment that Latins would face. With the help of LULAC, Mexicans Americans grew to become more politicly involved and created an Anti-segregate schools committee to fight against the discrimination and segregation between Mexican students and schools. The local officials than used the white card to desegregate Mexican Americans. Mexican Americans were furious with the fact they were labeled as White Anglos in order to be desegregated in schools. They felt as if part of their identity was being taken away because they had to choose to be either labeled as a White Anglo American or Mexican. LULAC had to now fight for a new cultural identity for Mexican American citizens.

    Rumblings and Early School Activism begins with how the community is beginning to rumble within the Mexican Americans dissatisfaction with the way Mexican American children are being educated in schools and the negligence with political leaders taking any interests on the needs of the Mexican American community. The Mexican American Community wanted a change within the schools for their children and tried to form groups that would band together to build improvements for the children. The goal wasn’t to promote reform within the schools and new school practices that would create a change for a better institution of schooling. They fought to end the discrimination against Mexican American students and requested a more diverse environment. The impact didn’t occur without the help of the Chicano movement that was created by different groups that all wanted to fight for the improvement of Mexican Americans practices in schools, political involvement, and other social and cultural activities. The Chicano movement encouraged students to create lists of demands to improve the schools for the student’s education. It also helped for other groups to create lists of demands in improving their Latin communities’ rights. The groups didn’t make an impact on the school’s officials because the groups within the Chicano movement were all fighting for different causes rather than banding together to try and fix one problem at a time. This meant that the Mexican American community was being ignored by the school officials on any demands to improve the education of their people. I like how the author emphasized that the reason nothing was getting done was that the groups were trying to fight different causes at the same time, so they weren’t getting anywhere with improvements for their people. If history has shown us, every situation that has been fixed was because people would band together in order to be taken seriously and get things done.

    Once the groups realized they needed to band together to help students become desegregated they began to protest together for school integration. By deciding to integrate Mexican American students in schools, they were also creating a diverse community and a new ethnic identity for their people. The first step of integration was to allow students to go to the school that was located closest to their homes rather than being separated to a far way school based on their ethnicity. Houston created an integration plan in the year 1970 to allow student go to schools located closest to them. This very plan was later used in the Brown v Board of Education to help integrate black students with whites. The courts found a way to only integrate Mexican Americans and African Americans in the same schools. In their opinion Mexicans were considered to be “white” so they decided by integrating both races they were obeying the new laws that were being created. What the schools were trying to do by integrating Mexican Americans and African Americans, was trying to create a scapegoat, that they were abiding the new laws but at the same time not inconveniencing Anglo students into integrating with the other races. The Mexican American community became aware of the courts’ integration tactics and took two different approaches to handle their new situation. The first approach was by fighting legally in court for a change, while the other approach was to create an educational campaign for the community. The group Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) according to the author Mr. San Miguel were a dramatic group with the way they would protest for change in the community. An example he gives was when the youth group, Took over the Juan Marcos Presbyterian Church for thirteen days, complaining that the church’s program for the barrio was too spiritual and did not address its members’ full needs of the barrio. I took this as an opinion that Mr. San Miguel felt there were better ways the youth could have helped their community by protesting to help improve the integration of Mexican Americans in schools rather than the protest of social needs. Meanwhile, Carlos Calbillo states, In the spring of 1970, our cadres broke into and occupied the Juan Marcos Presbyterian Church in the Northside as a protest against the lack of community centers to serve the many needs of Houston’s Mexican American community. In my opinion, Carlos Calbillos statement is more factual and creates a better understand of the event because he actually went through the event rather than Miguel’ opinion as to why he believed the MAYO group didn’t care about the integration in schools because they protested for a change to better suit their needs in other areas.

    Another significant group the changes of school integration and Chicano movement was the Mexican American Education Council (MAEC). With the help of MAEC, Mexican Americans were finally being heard and some of their demands were being taken seriously. Unlike other groups like MAYO where their tactics for being heard was by protesting and rioting aggressively at times, MAEC would persist and not deter from gaining responses through courts for the school boards to acknowledge the mistreatment of Mexican Americans in schools. I found the group MAEC to be very powerful in its time because they were still able to help the Mexican American communities have a voice that it wasn’t right that their identities were being replaced as white instead of creating a newly developed identity as a Mexican American. I hadn’t previously heard of this group but by reading the section on “The Struggle for Recognition” the author gives a good explanation was a big influence on education system for Mexican Americans. MAEC had faced many obstacles that included a resistance from the Anglo population and not having support from African Americans on how schools were using Mexican Americans and categorizing them as “White” for Desegregation rather than integrating all ethnicities in schools as the courts had requested.

    The Chicano Movement was a big part of the in the integration of schools for Mexican Americans. Because of the Chicano Movement, activist were created by all different ages and genders to fight for the desegregation of Mexican Americans and creating a new identity as a Chicano rather than giving into the Anglo School systems and being identified as “Whites” so that schools could get away with integrating only the Mexican Americans with African Americans so that they wouldn’t inconvenience the education of Anglo Students by having to move schools. The Chicano Movement also helped the Mexican American community by protesting the discrimination and mistreatment of their people. Many groups were formed during the Chicano movement, banding together to help better evolve their communities politically and socially.


    1. Calbillo, Carlos. ‘The Chicano Movement in Houston and Texas: A Personal Memory.’ Houston History Magazine. Accessed 2012.
    2. San Miguel, Guadalupe, Jr. Brown, Not White: School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001.

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