The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly

The remarkable influence and energy exerted by women is especially note-
worthy. Many of the participants, such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Virginia
Foster Durr, deserve full-length biographies to record their distinctive contri-
butions. Bethune was a singular voice for equality, and Durr was the foremost
champion of the repeal of the poll tax. Balanced and scholarly, Simple Decency
& Common Sense offers historical continuity and stimulating conclusions con-
cerning memorable reform efforts.
University of South Alabama BETTY BRANDON
Chicano Workers and the Politics of Fazrness: The FEPC in the Southwest, 1941-1945.
By Clete Daniel. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991. Pp. xii+ 239.
Preface, notes, works cited, index. $27.59-)
In Chicano Workers and the Politics of Fairness Daniel addresses the question of
how a federal commission, a body underfunded and hamstrung by presidential
indifference, a commission primarily concerned with the employment status of
black Americans, protected the job rights of Chicano workers. Predictably,
Daniel finds that the FEPC did not do a good job on behalf of Mexican Ameri-
cans. The story does not inspire respect for FDR and his administration or for
the Mexican government, which joined with the Roosevelt administration in
suppressing scheduled FEPC hearings in El Paso. In this case Undersecretary
of State Sumner Welles and Mexican officials acted to protect an agreement
between the two nations for Mexico to encourage temporary Mexican workers
to enter U.S. agricultural employment during the war, an agreement both sides
knew would be jeopardized by public testimony of job discrimination against
Chicanos. Maury Maverick, who reported to the FEPC that Anglo Texans did
not discriminate in employment, had further undermined Mexican Americans'
search for job equity in Texas.
The FEPC devoted considerable time and effort to the copper industry, a
heavy employer of Chicanos in the Southwest. Although the commission un-
covered convincing evidence of massive discrimination, the copper corpora-
tions, often in collusion with the Anglo-dominated A.F. of L., signed and sub-
mitted statements to the FEPC that promised but rarely created opportunities
for Chicano workers to advance.
The weakness of Daniel's work is that Chicanos in the Southwest appear in
his analysis largely as nameless and passive victims of discrimination rather
than as articulate and demonstrative workers. The Mine, Mill and Smelter
Workers Union actively recruited Chicanos, made its own investigation of em-
ployment discrimination, and reported its findings to the FEPC. However,
Daniel does not explore in detail the ways in which Mexican Americans in the
MMSWU fought their own battles or how Chicanos reacted to FEPC activities
and failures.
The principal strength of the work is that it demonstrates the failure of the
FEPC, regardless of the intent or wishes of its members, to secure substantial

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed May 6, 2015.