An article by Louis Farraken published in the Nation of Islam magazine peeked my interest. Over 100 years after the end of the Civil War slavery and discrimination are still teaching and learning tools for African Americans. The topic unifies African Americans. This is how they combat the menace of White racism. By always being on the offensive.
Let’s first discuss what I think are the two most important Supreme Court decisions regarding race.
Dred Scott Decision - The Court had ruled that African Americans had no claim to freedom or citizenship.
Plessy v Ferguson - It upheld state racial segregation laws for public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal". "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
These Supreme Court rulings legitimized slavery and segregation. Since Supreme Court decisions can only by overturned by the Supreme Court itself, these decisions became the law of the land.
We Mexican Americans have never been slaves, yet we have been the victims of racism just like our African American brothers. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, we were classified as White. However, we were treated as anything but White.
In Fort Worth, we had Katy Lake Elementary School in the Southside, M.G. Ellis in the Northside and a Mexican school near the courthouse. Those few that made it to high school had to go to Trimble Tech. It was similar in Dallas. There was Eagle Ford District 49 School and Mexican Americans had to go to Dallas (Crozier Tech) HS in downtown even though there were schools nearby. Eagle Ford District 49 and M.G. Ellis are similar in that they were also schools for poor whites.
Tony Vasquez of Tejano Gold radio recalls when he applied to go to Paschal HS in 1967 he was denied, told he had to go to Trimble Tech. He complained to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was allowed to attend Paschal.
Of course, the most vivid example of White on Brown discrimination was Joe T. Garcia’s that supposedly when Whites complained because Mexicans could eat there, the restaurant put up a “No Mexicans” sign.
There were those that fought for racial equality in Fort Worth and Dallas. All Latinos owe a debt of gratitude to all those that stood up and voiced their opposition to the way we were treated. All Latinos today benefit from the work of those brave Mexican Americans that stood up.
Today we can say “Life is good in America.” It is. It wasn’t always.