In this article, I document an overlooked aspect of the history of school segregation and civil1rightsin the Southwest—the segregation of Mexican Americans students in Arizona. While historianshave extensively documented the school segregation experienced by Mexican Americans inCalifornia, 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 largerproject that uses the trial transcripts, legal briefs, and other primary source documents from theMexican American school segregation cases described below as a window into mid-century racialideologies.I begin by providing an overview of the unique racial status of Mexican Americans. Legallyentitled to citizenship under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago (1848), MexicanAmericans 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 discriminationexperienced by Mexican Americans in Arizona in the first half of the twentieth century. Thethird section of the paper outlines the efforts by Mexican American parents to challenge schoolsegregation in the courts, focusing primarily onGonzales v. Sheely(1951). InGonzales, whichAddress correspondence to Jeanne M. Powers, Arizona State University, Division of Educational Leadership andPolicy 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
468POWERSwas decided in federal court between the Supreme Court’s decisions inMcLaurin v. Oklahoma(1950) andSweatt v. Painter(1950) andBrown v. Board of Education(1954), Judge Dave W.Ling ruled that “segregation of school children in separate school buildings because of racial ornational origin . . . constitutes a denial of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed to petitionersas citizens of the United States” (Gonzales v. Sheely, 1951, p. 1008). The final section placesGonzalesin the broader context of Mexican American school segregation cases in the Southwest.THE RACIALIZATION OF MEXICAN AMERICANS IN THE SOUTHWESTI use the term racialization to describe the process by which a group comes to be defined inracial terms (Omi, 2001). The racialization of Mexican Americans in the Southwestern UnitedStates had deep roots in what Horsman (1981) described as the racial Anglo-Saxonism that fueledManifest Destiny in the mid-nineteenth century. New ideas about race borrowed from Europefueled 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 tospread its more advanced form of government throughout the continent; Mexicans were viewed asinferior 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 ideologyto justify the annexation of Texas and the U.S.-Mexican War (Horsman, 1981).