Fronteras: San Antonio Institute Aims To Draw Attention To Mexican American Civil Rights History
The Mexican American civil rights movement often paralleled alongside the African American civil rights movement. Both fought against voter suppression, and discrimination in the classroom and in the workplace, but the historical fights for the Latinx community are often overlooked.
Now, the Mexican American Civil Rights Institute (MACRI) aims to bring attention to the struggles and victories of the nation’s largest minority group.
“So for better or worse, in the United States, when you say ‘civil rights movement,’ most people automatically think of the African American civil rights movement, said Sarah Zenaida Gould, interim executive director of MACRI. “Which is incredibly important and also has an awful lot of connections to the Mexican American civil rights movement.”
The institute is based in San Antonio and inspired by the city’s contributions to the movement.
Decades before César Chávez organized farm workers, Emma Tenayuca fought for pecan shellers who were breathing harmful pecan dust and working in abysmal conditions in the late 1930s. Mexican American students walked out of class in 1968 to protest inequality in the public education system. Willie Velasquez launched an ambitious voter registration effort in the 1970s with the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.
“The leadership, the events, the struggles, the successes that the Mexican American community in general has had,” explained Paul Ruiz, MACRI board chair, “and the successes that have had national impact or their success have been of national importance comes out of San Antonio.”