The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 351
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2003 Whither Tejano History: Origins, Development, and Status
Americans in unflattering roles (generally bandits) or dismissed them
altogether as active players in the state's development.6 Before the 1970s
Anglo Americans generally had little contact with Mexican Americans.
White Texans were inclined to see Mexican Americans as field laborers
or quaint figures unaccepting of American values and way of life. Unlike
other states in the Southwest, moreover, Texas never developed a close
attachment to its "Spanish" past. In California and New Mexico things
had been otherwise; by the latter years of the nineteenth century and by
the early twentieth century, Anglo Americans in those states had come
to romanticize their connection to the "Spanish era." Popular writers
and even historians there idealized links to the pre-1848 epoch.7
Because Texans never subscribed to any such "Spanish myth," however,
memory did not induce them to acknowledge the Mexican American
presence in more contemporary times.
Then, during the early 197os, Texas Mexicans became the focus of
study by professionals. Several forces drove the new attention. Certainly
the increase in population (from 2 million in 1970 to 5 million today),
and thus the growing visibility of "Hispanics," caused mainstream histori-
ans to speculate on the role of Tejanos in the Texas chronicle. The civil
rights movement of the 196os and early 197o0s also accelerated interest
in the field. Protests against the establishment championed the cause of
little people throughout the United States and many Mexican Ameri-
cans across the country eagerly became part of the progressive assault
upon white society. Mexican Americans both from the urban and rural
regions of the state joined forces in a grassroots crusade (known popu-
larly as the "Chicano movement") that reproached Anglos for misrepre-
senting and excluding "Chicanos" from the Texas story. Throughout
public schools and institutions of higher learning, young people simulta-
neously called for a reassessment of mainstream Texas history. At the
university level, particularly, undergraduates pressured administrations
to establish Chicano studies programs and to hire Chicano faculty who
might teach courses more accurately depicting the worthy record of the
Such were the events that produced Tejano history some three
decades ago. Leading the investigation into the nascent field was an
inspired group of (predominantly ethnic and male) historians who were
6 Dr. Gilbert Cruz, Glendale Community College, Glendale, Ariz., to Arnoldo De Le6n, Feb. 4,
1998, letter, copy in author's possession.
7 David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier zn North America (New Haven: Yale University Press,
6 See Ignaclo M. Garcia, Chzcanssmo: The Forging of a Mzlztant Ethos Among Mexscan Americans
(Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997), 3-18 and 43-67. See also Jose Angel Gutierrez, The
Making of a Chicano Militant: Lessons from Cristal (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/419/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.