In this article i document an overlooked aspect of

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In this article, I document an overlooked aspect of the history of school segregation and civil 1 rights in the Southwest—the segregation of Mexican Americans students in Arizona. While historians have extensively documented the school segregation experienced by Mexican Americans in California, Texas, and Colorado (e.g., Arriola, 1995; Donato, 1997, 2003; Foley, 1997; Montejano, 1987; San Miguel, 1987; Wollenberg, 1976), few studies have focused on Arizona (for exceptions, see A. Reynolds, 1933; G. I. Sanchez, 1951). The research reported here is drawn from a larger project that uses the trial transcripts, legal briefs, and other primary source documents from the Mexican American school segregation cases described below as a window into mid-century racial ideologies. I begin by providing an overview of the unique racial status of Mexican Americans. Legally entitled to citizenship under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago (1848), Mexican Americans were subject to de facto segregation policies in schools and other public institutions. In the second section, I detail the school segregation and other forms of racial discrimination experienced by Mexican Americans in Arizona in the first half of the twentieth century. The third section of the paper outlines the efforts by Mexican American parents to challenge school segregation in the courts, focusing primarily on Gonzales v. Sheely (1951). In Gonzales , which Address correspondence to Jeanne M. Powers, Arizona State University, Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, P. O. Box 872411, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. E-mail: [email protected] Downloaded By: [EBSCOHost EJS Content Distribution - Current] At: 19:40 19 December 2010
468 POWERS was decided in federal court between the Supreme Court’s decisions in McLaurin v. Oklahoma (1950) and Sweatt v. Painter (1950) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Judge Dave W. Ling ruled that “segregation of school children in separate school buildings because of racial or national origin . . . constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed to petitioners as citizens of the United States” ( Gonzales v. Sheely , 1951, p. 1008). The final section places Gonzales in the broader context of Mexican American school segregation cases in the Southwest. THE RACIALIZATION OF MEXICAN AMERICANS IN THE SOUTHWEST I use the term racialization to describe the process by which a group comes to be defined in racial terms (Omi, 2001). The racialization of Mexican Americans in the Southwestern United States had deep roots in what Horsman (1981) described as the racial Anglo-Saxonism that fueled Manifest Destiny in the mid-nineteenth century. New ideas about race borrowed from Europe fueled an ideology that linked race, nationalism, and expansionism. American Anglo-Saxons (i.e., whites of English and Germanic descent) viewed themselves as a superior race destined to spread its more advanced form of government throughout the continent; Mexicans were viewed as inferior because they were not effectively utilizing the natural resources on their lands (Horsman, 1981; see also Camarillo, 1979; DeLeon, 1983; Perea, 2003). U.S. politicians used this ideology to justify the annexation of Texas and the U.S.-Mexican War (Horsman, 1981).

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