Mexican Americans

Norma Martinez

In 2010, public schools in Arizona were forbidden from teaching Mexican American studies to their students.  A group of Republican state lawmakers there argued that the classes created resentments towards other races, and even in some cases, promoted the overthrow of the U.S. government.  A U.S. District Court judge is expected to rule on the ban’s constitutionality in the coming days.

Educators in Texas are looking past the Arizona controversy and are working to teach public school students about Hispanics’ often-overlooked role in shaping American history. 

Texas Public Radio’s Norma Martinez sat down with Marco Cervantes, director of the Mexican American Studies Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Lilliana Saldaña, Associate Professor in Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

San Antonio celebrated Labor Day with a downtown march that remembered the 490 mile march that Texas farm workers completed 50 years ago.

The Labor Day procession began at San Fernando Cathedral and ended at downtown’s Milam Park. Hundreds gathered and chanted the same slogans that motivated striking farm workers 50 years ago.

On this Labor Day, a look back to 50 years ago – a labor fight, a strike and a legendary march for better wages, improved working conditions and human dignity for farm workers.

On June 1, 1966, farm workers in Starr County in the Rio Grande Valley, virtually all of them Latino, left the melon fields.

They did the unimaginable and went on strike.

They were demanding a $25 dollar-an-hour wage, and improved working conditions, including clean drinking water.