Elevate Difference

No Mexicans, Women or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement

So often, when studying the history of civil rights in the United States in school, the curriculum concentrates on the struggles faced by African Americans and white women. The plights of other minority groups though, such as Asian Americans or Hispanic Americans, are often omitted from the textbooks. In those rare instances when these other groups are mentioned, their histories are condensed into a paragraph or side note. Cynthia E. Orozco attempts to shed some light on one of these ignored civil rights movements in her book, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed. Her chronicle is a fascinating exploration at an overlooked chapter of American history.

I grew up in Texas, graduated from a Texas university, and currently teach in the same district where I attended school as a youth. Suffice to say, I have some experience studying Texas history. I found Orozco’s book, which focuses mainly on the region of South Texas, to be extremely eye-opening. Orozco outlines the history and development of the Mexican American culture and civil rights movement, starting with the early 1900s and concentrating mostly on the cities of San Antonio and Corpus Christi. She draws readers in, not with flashy writing or hooks, but with historical data and simple statistics that are interesting and to the point.

The book starts out by defining the cultural differences between Mexican Americans whose families have lived in Texas since before it became a state and recently immigrated Mexicans—a difference that many modern Americans still struggle with. Orozco then delves into the history of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC as it is commonly known by, as well as other organizations that were influential in the Mexican-American civil rights movement. She also takes on the issue of gender inequality within Mexican-American society and how this affected the civil rights movement and modern scholars’ perception of the women who participated in it.

For those interested in American history, civil rights history, women’s history, or Mexican American history, this book should be at the top of your reading list. After completing this book, I found myself wanting to know more about the people and incidents discussed. One can only hope that more books like this one will be published so that people can be educated on all facets of the civil rights movement in America.

Written by: Victoria Kroeger, February 20th 2010

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