The Mexican Schools

Juan Crow segregated Mexicano children and Anglo children in the educational system. Even when Anglos and Mexicanos did attend the same school, school administration upheld discrimination against Mexicanos. Gutiérrez talks about his experience as a junior in high school and his first taste of what real power was:

“That junior year, the catalytic moment other than getting involved and running for President and all this stuff and knowing how to get block votes and all that, was the selection of Prom servers…. The junior class would raise money to pay for it all, it was held in the gym, and the junior class paid for all this but would also vote who would be the prom servers. And they would be the ones who would escort you in and take you to your tables and bring you things so they were like waiters. Well, it was by popular election and I brought the votes to the principal and he looked at the list and you know, just wadded it up and threw it away, pulled out another piece of paper, drew a line and the first words out of his mouth is we’re not gonna have no race-mixing here. These are the Mexicans. And he started writing out names. And these are the Anglos. He said here. That’s who the prom servers are gonna be. And of course, you know, I was a democratic leader in the making. I said, that’s not right. That’s not the results of the election. And I’m gonna report you. I’m gonna have a class meeting. He says, you do it and you’ll be expelled. Well, that was my first taste with real power.” – José Angel Gutiérrez

Many Mexicanos did not get the opportunity to finish high school or go to college. The segregation of Mexican Ward schools under Juan Crow led to many students dropping out in order to work. José Gonzales discusses the general consensus about Mexicanos and higher education:

“And, actually, I was offered naval cadet school and chose not to accept because I didn’t know enough about it. But that’s because in the barrio, at that time, which I hope it’s different today, but I’m not certain it is… The neighborhood consensus, essentially, about Mexicanos in the barrio was that Mexicanos didn’t go to college.” – José Gonzales

In Texas and most history books in the United States, Juan Crow prevented Mexicano history from making it into textbooks. What was taught to Mexicanos in schools often conflicted with what was told to them at home:

“And you’re reading the books by then, you know, you’re reading the histories and like in the seventh grade, I remember telling my mother I wanted her to take me to the JC Penney Store because I wanted her to buy me a Davy Crockett coon-skin cap. Because I didn’t wanna be Mexican, I didn’t wanna be with Santa Anna. This was before my father died, just before. And he scolded the hell outta me. I’d get a beating because he said you’re a Mexican, the Mexicans won at the Alamo, don’t be ashamed. And I’m thinking you don’t know what they’re telling us at school. So, you know, we always had that dilemma: you gotta say what they want you to say at school, you gotta say at home what your parents want you to say and for some reason, and they don’t mix, but you can’t defy either one.” – José Angel Gutiérrez


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