Civil Rights Transcript

As African Americans fought for civil rights throughout the 20th century, Hispanic Americans were engaged in a parallel struggle—even if it wasn’t in the national headlines.

Depite the fact that its first non-native residents spoke Spanish, Texas’ story for many years had been told from a primarily Anglo point of view—which often cast the Tejano as an outsider.

As a result, Tejano citizens in the early 20th century met prejudice in many aspects of their lives. Anti-Mexican hatred sometimes led to violence—beatings and lynchings—as well as more commonplace discrimination in the workplace and community.

Up until the 1960s, it was not unusual to find a sign on stores or restaurants that read, “No dogs, Negros or Mexicans.”

Tejanos were subject to the same Jim Crow laws and city ordinances used to restrict African Americans—disenfranchising Tejanos, segregating them, and depriving them of opportunity.

In the 1920s Tejanos reacted by forming organizations to protect their rights: mutual aid societies or sociedades mutualistas. One organization called Orden Hijos de America or Order of Sons of America, formed branches throughout Texas and, using the U.S. Constitution as their hammer, cracked open access to schools, beaches, public facilities, and participation on juries.

Over time the Order of Sons merged with other Hispanic rights organizations, creating the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1929—dedicated to advancing education, economic power, political influence, housing, health, and civil rights for all Hispanics. This instrument for advocacy was eventually complemented by other civil rights organizations.

In the ‘60s, the farmworkers movement provided another powerful catalyst for awakening the country to inequality and unfair labor practices--an effort that achieved nationwide attention… affecting all Americans whenever they sat down to supper.

As they worked tirelessly for civil rights, Mexican-Americans also sought the next level of empowerment: ethnic pride. The Chicano Movement—or El Movimiento—reinforced this effort, encouraging Hispanics to continuing activism and cultural expression.