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Democratizing Texas Politics

Race, Identity, and Mexican American Empowerment, 1945-2002

By Benjamin Márquez

Publication Year: 2014

A senior scholar of Latino political action examines the intriguing incongruities in post–WWII Texas politics, particularly the curious flourishing of Latino leadership during the state’s simultaneous transition to conservatism.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

In the course of writing this book, I have been assisted by many colleagues. Over the years a number of scholars were kind enough to offer feedback and encouragement on this project. Henry Flores, Sandy Magana, Michael Olivas, Luis Fraga, Melissa Michelson, David Canon, and Yoi Herrera commented on various parts of the manuscript. I especially...

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pp. 1-13

This is a book about Mexican American incorporation into Texas electoral politics after World War II. It is a study of social change in a state with a long and often violent history of racial conflict (Montejano 1987; Johnson 2003). The transformation of Texas politics is evidenced by the increase in Mexican American elected officials. In the 1940s the state had virtually...

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1. Mexican Americans and Social Change

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pp. 14-20

During the 1950s Mexican Americans in Texas were marginalized in almost every respect. Discrimination was rampant in housing, education, and employment (Montejano 1987: ch. 4). Of the five southwestern states, Texas had the worst Anglo–Mexican American education and income differentials (Briggs et al. 1977: 20, 61). Turnout was low, and ...

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2. The 1950s—A Decade in Flux

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pp. 21-55

The decade after World War II was a time when economic and demographic changes made viable the first Mexican American challenge to racial exclusion in Texas party politics. As theories of assimilation and incorporation predict, Mexican Americans began to participate in party affairs in greater numbers. The population was largely urban. The overwhelming...

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3. The Dilemmas of Ethnic Solidarity

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pp. 56-94

The Texas Democratic Party of the 1950s was a formidable barrier to racial progress. Minorities, labor, and liberals had few representatives on the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) (Davidson 1990: 165– 166). Conservatives dominated the party structure and liberals were so excluded that Democratic leaders even in places like San Antonio were...

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4. The Quiet Revolution

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pp. 95-122

Albert Peña, who helped organize PASO and La Raza Unida, thought that the Democratic Party would only change with sustained outside pressure. He threatened party leaders with fragmentation, third-party revolts, and losses at the polls if they did not take the Democrats “to the people” (Peña 1972b). Peña never wavered in this belief, but when the Democratic ...

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5. A Two-Party State

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pp. 123-154

By 1978 Texas had a functioning two-party system, Republicans were winning elections, and the state Democratic Party finally began to resemble the national party in its ideology and governing structure (B. Carr ca. 1979a, ca. 1979c). Texas liberals increased their numbers and influence to the point that one activist characterized the 1978 Democratic state convention ...

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6. Tony Sánchez for Governor

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pp. 155-169

Race politics in Texas was upended in 2002. That year Tony Sánchez, a South Texas businessman, won the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. His nomination was a powerfully symbolic act, an affirmation of racial inclusion and power sharing sought by political leaders and community organizations for over fifty years. It was the culmination of a long ...

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7. The Long and Grinding Road

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pp. 170-178

The story of Mexican American political mobilization in the post–World War II era is one of success. The demand for racial incorporation resulted in representation at every level of partisan politics. By the 1980s Mexican Americans were being elected to public office at the state and local level in numbers equivalent to their proportion of the general population. But ...


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pp. 179-242


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pp. 243-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780292753853
E-ISBN-10: 0292753853
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292753846
Print-ISBN-10: 0292753845

Page Count: 255
Illustrations: 17 b/w photos, 9 graphs, 8 tables
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture