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Claiming Citizenship

Mexican Americans in Victoria, Texas

By Anthony Quiroz

Publication Year: 2005

Claiming Citizenship spotlights a community where Mexican Americans, regardless of social class, embraced a common ideology and worked for access to the full rights of citizenship without confrontation or radicalization. Victoria, Texas, is a small city with a sizable Mexican-descent population dating to the period before the U.S. annexation of the state. There, a complex and nuanced story of ethnic politics unfolded in the middle of the twentieth century. Focusing on grassroots, author Anthony Quiroz shows how the experience of the Mexican American citizens of Victoria, who worked within the system, challenges common assumptions about the power of class to inform ideology and demonstrates that embracing ethnic identity does not always mean rejecting Americanism. Quiroz identifies Victoria as a community in which Mexican Americans did not engage in overt resistance, labor organization, demonstrations, or the rejection of capitalism, democracy, or Anglo culture and society. Victoria's Mexican Americans struggled for equal citizenship as the "loyal opposition," opposing exclusionary practices while embracing many of the values and practices of the dominant society. Various individuals and groups worked, beginning in the 1940s, to bring about integrated schools, better political representation, and a professional class of Mexican Americans whose respectability would help advance the cause of Mexican equality. Their quest for public legitimacy was undertaken within a framework of a bicultural identity that was adaptable to the private, Mexican world of home, church, neighborhood, and family, as well as to the public world of school, work, and politics. Coexistence with Anglo American society and sharing the American dream constituted the desired ideal. Quiroz's study makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Mexican American experience by focusing on groups who chose a more subtle, less confrontational path toward equality. Perhaps, indeed, he describes the more common experience of this ethnic population in twentieth-century America.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Series: Fronteras Series, sponsored by Texas A&M International University


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title page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xiv

On a warm autumn day in 1968 two friends, one white, one Mexican American, were talking in the lunch line at a Catholic grammar school. The Anglo child, the son of a prominent local banker, had been talking about his family’s summer getaway on a lake where they swam, fished, hiked, and generally had...

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p. xv

Carlos sol

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1 From Mexican Colony to Anglo Stronghold

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pp. 3-23

Victoria began as a small empresario community along the banks of the Guadalupe River in 1824. The subsequent twelve years marked a brief period of relative racial harmony in the colony comprised of a majority of Mexican families and...

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2 “For God, for Country, for Home”

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pp. 24-48

The roots of the Catholic faith in Victoria, Texas, can be traced to the founding of the city by empresario Don Mart

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3 Creating Loyal Citizens

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pp. 49-76

The Mexican Americans’ identity in Victoria was shaped partly by experiences with the Victoria public schools. Originally excluded from the school system, later included but segregated, and finally nominally integrated, Mexican American students...

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4 “By the Power of Reason”

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pp. 77-98

Throughout the post–World War II period, Mexican Americans formed clubs and associations designed to help them carve out a place of equality in Victoria.1 Some such organizations were working class in composition; in others, the middle..

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5 Strength through Adversity

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pp. 99-124

Just as Mexican Americans in Victoria employed fraternal organizations and sought educational equality to express and promote their views of citizenship, so too did they turn to political action. Prior to World War II most Mexican Americans remained politically quiescent. Ongoing activity at the polls, on the stump and in...

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pp. 125-128

Victoria’s Mexican American history appears to be a departure from the standard historiography on Tejano communities that argues that a questioning of mainstream institutional life and confrontational tactics were the norm, particularly during the 1960s and after. Historians who have researched...


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pp. 129-146


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pp. 147-158


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pp. 159-166

E-ISBN-13: 9781603445917
E-ISBN-10: 1603445919
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585444106
Print-ISBN-10: 1585444103

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 11 b&w photos. Map. 7 tables.
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Fronteras Series, sponsored by Texas A&M International University
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OCLC Number: 607589139
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Claiming Citizenship

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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- Texas -- Victoria -- Politics and government.
  • Victoria (Tex.) -- Ethnic relations -- Political aspects.
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