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George I. Sanchez, Ideology, and Whiteness in the Making of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, 1930-1960 By CARLOS K . BLANTON Let us keep in mind that the Mexican-American can easily become the front-line of defense of the civil liberties of ethnic minorities. The racial, cultural, and historical involvements in his case embrace those of all of the other minority groups. Yet, God bless the law, he is “white”! So, the Mexican-American can be the wedge for the broadening of civil liberties for others (who are not so fortunate as to be “white” and “Christian”!).
George L Sanchez (1958) By embracing whiteness, Mexican Americans have reinforced the color line that has denied people of African descent full participation in American democracy. In pursuing White rights, Mexican Americans combined Latin American racialism with Anglo racism, and in the process separated themselves and their political agenda from the Black civil rights struggles of the forties and fifties. Neil Foley (1998)’ 1 HE HISTORY OF RACE AND CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAN SoUTH IS complex and exciting.
The history of Mexican American civil rights is also promising, particularly so in regard to understanding the role of whiteness. Both selections above, the first from a Mexican American ‘ The epigraphs are drawn from George I. Sanchez to Roger N. Baldwin, August 27, 1958, Folder 8, Box 31, George I. Sanchez Papers (Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas Libraries, Austin); and Neil Foley, “Becoming Hispanic: Mexican Americans and the Faustian Pact with Whiteness,” in Foley, ed.. Reflexiones 1997: New Directions In Mexican American Studies (Austin, 1998), 65.
The author would like to thank the Journal of Southem History’s six anonymous reviewers and Texas A&M University’s Glasscock Center for Humanities Research for their very helpful intellectual guidance on this essay. MR. BLANTON is an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University. THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY Volume LXXII, No. 3, August 2006 570 THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY intellectual of the mid-twentieth century and the last a recently published statement from a historian of race and identity, are nominally about whiteness. But the historical actor and the historian discuss whiteness differently.
The quotation from the 1950s advocates exploiting legal whiteness to obtain civil rights for both Mexican Americans and other minority groups. The one from the 1990s views such a strategy as inherently racist. The historical figure writes of Mexican Americans and African Americans cooperating in the pursuit of shared civil rights goals; the historian writes of the absence, the impossibility of cooperation due to Mexican American whiteness. This contrast is worth further consideration. This essay examines the Mexican American civil rights movement by focusing on the work and ideas of George I.
Sanchez—a prominent activist and professor of education at the University of Texas—in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Sanchez is the most significant intellectual of what is commonly referred to as the “Mexican American Generation” of activists during this period. As a national president of the major Mexican American civil rights organization of the era, however, Sanchez’s political influence within the Mexican American community was just as important as his intellectual leadership. Sanchez pondered notions of whiteness and actively employed them, offering an excellent case study of the making of Mexican American civil rights.
^ First, this work examines how Sanchez’s civil rights efforts were vitally informed by an ideological perspective that supported gradual, integrationist, liberal reform, a stance that grew out of his activist research on African Americans in the South, Mexican Americans in the Southwest, and Latin Americans in Mexico and Venezuela. This New Deal ideological inheritance shaped Sanchez’s contention that Mexican Americans were one minority group among many needing governmental assistance. Second, this liberal ideology gave rise to a nettlesome citizenship dilemma.
During the Great Depression and World War II, Mexican Americans’ strategic emphasis on American citizenship rhetorically placed them shoulder-to-shoulder with other U. S. minority groups. It also marginalized immigrant Mexicans. The significance of ^ For more on Sanehez see Gladys R. Leff, “George I. Sanchez: Don Quixote of the Southwest” (Ph. D. dissertation. North Texas State University, 1976); James Nelson Mowry, “A Study of the Educational Thought and Aetion of George I. Sanehez” (Ph. D. dissertation. University of Texas, 1977); Amerieo Paredes, ed.. Humanidad: Essays in Honor of George 1.
Sanchez (Los Angeles, 1977); Steven Sehlossman, “Self-Evident Remedy? George I. Sanchez, Segregation, and Enduring Dilemmas in Bilingual Education,” Teachers College Record, 84 (Summer 1983), 871-907; and Mario T. Garcia, Mexican Americans: Leadership, Ideology, and Identity, J930-1960 (New Haven, 1989), chap. 10. WHITENESS AND MEXICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS 571 citizenship was controversial within the Mexican American community and coincided with the emergence of an aggressive phase of Mexican Americans’ civil rights litigation that implemented a legal strategy based on their whiteness.
Third, Sanchez’s correspondence with Thurgood Marshall of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1940s and 1950s reveals early, fragmentary connections between the Mexican American and African American civil rights movements. All these topics address important interpretive debates about the role of whiteness. This essay fuses two historiographical streams: traditional studies on Mexican American politics and identity and the new whiteness scholarship’s interpretation of Mexican American civil rights.
In traditional works the Mexican American civil rights experience is often examined with little sustained comparison to other civil rights experiences. Conversely, the whiteness scholarship represents a serious attempt at comparative civil rights history. Taking both approaches into account answers the recent call of one scholar for historians to “muster even greater historical imagination” in conceiving of new histories of civil rights from different perspectives. ^ Traditional research on Mexican Americans in the twentieth century centers on generational lines.
From the late nineteenth century to the Great Depression, a large wave of Mexican immigrants, spurred by dislocation in Mexico as well as by economic opportunity in the U. S. , provided low-wage agricultural and industrial labor throughout the Southwest. Their political identity was as Mexicans living abroad, the “Mexicanist Generation. ” They generally paid little heed to American politics and eschewed cultural assimilation, as had earlier Mexicans who forcibly became American citizens as a result of the expansionist wars of the 1830s and 1840s.
However, mass violence shortly before World War I, intensifying racial discrimination throughout the early twentieth century, and forced repatriations to Mexico during the Great Depression heralded the rise of a new political ethos. The community had come to believe that its members were endangered by the presumption of foreignness and disloyalty. “^ By the late 1920s younger ‘ Charles W. Eagles, “Toward New Histories of the Civil Rights Era,” Journal of Southern History, 66 (November 2000), 848. ” See Emilio Zamora, The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas (College Station, Tex., * 1993);
George J. Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 (New York, 1993); Benjamin Heber Johnson, Revolution in Texas: How a Forgotten Rebellion and Its Bloody Suppression Turned Mexicans into Americans (New Haven, 2003); and Amoldo De Leon, The Tejano Community, 1836-1900 (1982; new ed. , Dallas, 1997). 572 THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY leaders—the “Mexican American Generation”—urged adoption of a new strategy of emphasizing American citizenship at all times.
They strove to speak English in public and in private settings, stressed education, asked for the gradual reform of discriminatory practices, emulated middle-class life, and exuded patriotism as a loyal, progressive ethnic group. They also desired recognition as ethnic whites, not as racial others. The oldest organization expressing this identity was the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). This ethos of hyphenated Americanism and gradual reform held sway until the late 1960s and early 1970s.
^ Studies of whiteness contribute to historians’ understanding of the interplay of race, ethnicity, and class by going beyond a black-white binary to seek the subtleties and nuances of race. This new scholarship examines who is considered white and why, traces how the definition of white shifts, unearths how whiteness conditions acts of inclusion and exclusion and how it reinforces and subverts concepts of race, and investigates the psychological and material rewards to be gained by groups that successfully claim whiteness.
Class tension, nativism, and racism are connected to a larger whiteness discourse. In other words, this is a new, imaginative way to more broadly interrogate the category of race. Works on whiteness often share a conviction that thoughts or acts capitalizing on whiteness reflect racist power as well as contribute to that insidious power’s making. They also generally maintain that notions of race, whether consciously employed or not, divide ethnic and racial minorities from each other and from workingclass whites, groups that would otherwise share class status and political goals.
^ In recent reviews of the state of whiteness history, Eric Amesen, ‘ See Mario Garcia, Mexican Americans; George J. Sanchez, Becoming Mexican American; David G. Gutierrez, Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity (Berkeley, 1995); Ignacio M. Garcia, Viva Kennedy: Mexican Americans in Search of Camelot (College Station, Tex. , 2000); Carl Allsup, The American G. I. Forum: Origins and Evolution (Austin, 1982); Richard A.
Garcia, Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class: San Antonio, 1929—1941 (College Station, Tex. , 1991); David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (Austin, 1987), chaps. 12 and 13; Julie Leininger Pyeior, LBJ and Mexican Americans: The Paradox of Power (Austin, 1997); Juan Gomez-Quinones, Chicano Politics: Reality and Promise, 1940-1990 (Albuquerque, 1990); and Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. , Brown, Not White: School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston (College Station, Tex. , 2001). ^ David R.
Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (1991; rev. ed.. New York, 1999); Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History (New York, 1994); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, Mass. , 1998); George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit From Identity Politics (Philadelphia, 1998). WHITENESS AND MEXICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS.
573 Barbara J. Fields, Peter Kolchin, and Daniel Wickberg offer much criticism. These historians argue that scholars using whiteness as an analytical tool are shoddy in their definitions, read too finely and semantically into documents and literary texts, and privilege discursive moments that have little or nothing to do with actual people or experiences. More specifically, Kolchin and Amesen argue that many studies of whiteness incautiously caricature race as an unchanging, omnipresent, and overly deterministic category.
In such works whiteness is portrayed as acting concretely and abstractly with or without historical actors and events. Ironically, studies of whiteness can obscure the exercise of power. Fields explains that studying “race” and “racial identity” is more attractive than studying “racism” because “racism exposes the hoUowness of agency and identity . . . [and] it violates the two-sides-to-every-story expectation of symmetry that Americans are peculiarly attached to. “^ Research that applies the idea of whiteness to Mexican American history is sparse and even more recent.
Several of these studies focus upon the use of whiteness as a legal strategy while others take a broader approach. ^ Historian Neil Foley offers the most significant and ambitious arguments by moving beyond an analysis of how white people viewed Mexican Americans to look instead at the construction of whiteness in the Mexican American mind. He shifts the perspective from external whiteness to internal whiteness and argues that Mexican Americans entered into a “Faustian Pact” by embracing racism toward African Americans in the course of trying to avoid de jure discrimination.
Foley claims that Mexican Americans consciously curried the favor of racist whites: “In pursuing White rights, Mexican Americans ‘ Peter Kolchin, “Whiteness Studies: The New History of Race in America,” Journal of American History, 89 (June 2002), 154-73; Eric Arnesen, “Whiteness and the Historians’ Imagination,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 60 (Fall 2001), 3-32; Barbara J. Fields, “Whiteness, Racism, and Identity,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 60 (Fall 2001), 48-56 (quotations on p.48);
Daniel Wickberg, “Heterosexual White Male; Some Recent Inversions in American Cultural History,” Journal of American History, 92 (June 2005), 136-57. *Ian F. Haney Lopez, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New York, 1996); Neil Foley, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture (Berkeley, 1997); Steven Harmon Wilson, The Rise of Judicial Management in the U. S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1955-2000 (Athens, Ga., 2002);
Wilson, “Brown over ‘Other White’; Mexican Americans’ Legal Arguments and Litigation Strategy in School Desegregation Lawsuits,” Law and History Review, 21 (Spring 2003), 145-94; Clare Sheridan, “‘Another White Race’: Mexican Americans and the Paradox of Whiteness in Jury Selection,” Law and History Review, 21 (Spring 2003), 109^14; Ariela J. Gross, “Texas Mexicans and the Polities of Whiteness,” Law and History Review, 21 (Spring 2003), 195-205; Carlos Kevin Blanton, The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981 (College Station, Tex., 2004);
Patrick J. Carroll, Felix Longoria’s Wake: Bereavement, Racism, and the Rise of Mexican American Activism (Austin, 2003). 574 THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY combined Latin American racialism with Anglo racism, and in the process separated themselves and their political agenda from the Black civil rights struggles of the forties and fifties. “^ Missing from such interpretations of whiteness’s meaning to Mexican Americans is George I. Sanchez’s making of Mexican American civil rights.
Analyzing Sanchez’s views is an excellent test of Foley’s interpretation because Sanchez’s use of the category of whiteness was sophisticated, deliberate, reflective, and connected to issues and events. An internationalist, multiculturalist, and integrationist ideology shaped by New Deal experiences in the American Southwest, the American South, and Latin America informed George L Sanchez’s civil rights activism and scholarship. Sanchez regarded Mexican Americans as one of many American minority groups suffering racial, ethnic, and religious bigotry.
Though Sanchez regarded Mexican Americans’ racial status as white, he also held that they were a minority group that experienced systematic and racialized oppression. Sanchez’s articulation of whiteness was qualified by an anti-racist ideological worldview and supports Eric Amesen’s criticism of “overreaching” by whiteness scholars who “appreciate neither ambiguity nor counter-discourses of race, the recognition of which would cast doubt on their bold claims. “‘° Sanchez was very much a New Deal “service intellectual” who utilized academic research in an attempt to progressively transform society.
The term service intellectual is an appropriate description of Sanchez, who propagated his civil rights activism through academic research with governmental agencies (the Texas State Department of Education, the New Mexico State Department of Education, the U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs) and national philanthropic organizations (the General Education Board, the Julius Rosenwald Eund, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Marshall Civil Liberties Trust).
The pinnacle of Sanchez’s scholarly contribution as a service intellectual was his evocative 1940 portrayal of rural New Mexican poverty and segregation in The Forgotten People: A Study of New Mexicans. ‘ ‘ ‘ Foley, “Becoming Hispanic,” 53-70 (quotation on p. 65); Foley, “Partly Colored or Other White: Mexican Americans and Their Problem with the Color Line,” in Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, eds. , Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U. S. South and Southwest (College Station, Tex. , 2004), 123-44.
For an older whiteness study that discusses the external imposition of racial concepts on Mexican Americans and other groups, see Roediger, Towards the Abolition of Whiteness, chap. 10. ‘”Amesen, “Whiteness and the Historians’ Imagination,” 24. ” Richard S. Kirkendall, Social Scientists and Farm Politics in the Age of Roosevelt WHITENESS AND MEXICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS 575 Sanchez particularly sought to transform society through the field of education. In the early 1930s he published blistering critiques of the shoddiness of IQ tests conducted on Mexican American children.
Mexican Americans bad just challenged separate schools in Texas and California and were told by the courts that because they were technically “white,” racial segregation was illegal; however, the courts then claimed that pedagogical segregation based upon intellectual or linguistic “deficiency” was permissible. In challenging racist IQ science, Sanchez essentially advocated integration. ‘^ A decade of service intellectual work came together for Sanchez in Forgotten People. He called for a comprehensive federal and state program to uplift downtrodden Hispanic New Mexicans: “Remedial measures will not solve the problem piecemeal.
Poverty, illiteracy, and ill-health are merely symptoms. If education is to get at the root of the problem schools must go beyond subject-matter instruction. . . . The curriculum of the educational agencies becomes, then, the magna carta of social and economic rehabilitation; the teacher, the advance agent of a new social order. “‘^ Sanchez regarded Mexican Americans as similar to Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, and African Americans. To Sanchez these were all minority groups that endured varying levels of discrimination by white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant America.
Sanchez was uninterested in divining a hierarchy of racial victimization; instead, he spent considerable energy on pondering ways for these groups to get the federal government, in New Deal fashion, to help alleviate their plight. Even in the mid-1960s when many Mexican Americans had come to favor a separate racial identity over an ethnic one, Sanchez still conceived of Mexican Americans as a cultural group, ignoring concepts of race altogether unless discussing racial discrimination. “^ Sanchez engaged the struggles of other minority groups and linked them to Mexican American activism.
In 1948, for example, Sanchez (Columbia, Mo. , 1966), 1-6; George I. Sanchez, Forgotten People: A Study of New Mexicans (1940; reprint, Albuquerque, 1996), xvi-xvii. Befitting the service intellectual ideal of freely diffusing knowledge, the Carnegie Foundation gave the book away. Carnegie provided four thousand dollars for Sanchez’s research at the same time it supported work on a much larger study on African Americans—Gunnar Myrdal’s classic An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York, 1944). ‘^
Carlos Kevin Blanton, “From Intellectual Deficiency to Cultural Deficiency: Mexican Americans, Testing, and Public School Policy in the American Southwest, 1920-1940,” Pacific Historical Review, 72 (February 2003), 56-61 (quotations on p. 60). ‘ ‘ Sanchez, Forgotten People, 86. ‘” George I. Sanchez, “History, Culture, and Education,” in Julian Samora, ed.. La Raza: Forgotten Americans (Notre Dame, 1966), 1-26; Mario Garcia, Mexican Americans, 267-68. 576 THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY published through the United States Indian Service a government study on Navajo problems called The People: A Study of the Navajos.
^^ In 1937-1938 Sanchez transferred his New Deal, reformist ideology across borders as a Latin American education expert with a prestigious administrative post in Venezuela’s national government. Writing to Edwin R. Embree, director of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Sanchez described his work as the chief coordinator of the country’s teachertraining program in familiar New Deal terms: “the hardest task is breaking down social prejudices, traditional apathy, obstructive habits (political and personal) and in-bred aimlessness.
” His first program report was appropriately titled “Release from Tyranny. “‘^ During World War II Sanchez was appointed to the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs under Nelson A. Rockefeller, where he continued work on Latin American teacher-training programs as part of the war effort. Sanchez was deeply committed to progressive reform in Latin America that would lift educational and living standards. ‘^ Sanchez also took on African American issues. From 1935 to 1937 he worked as a staff member with the Chicago-based Julius Rosenwald Eund.
This philanthropic organization was concerned with African American rural education in the South, and in this capacity Sanchez collaborated with Eisk University’s future president, the eminent sociologist Charles S. Johnson, on preparing the massive Compendium on Southem Rural Life. Sanchez was listed in the study’s budget as the highest-paid researcher for the 1936-1937 academic year with a $4,500 salary and a $2,000 travel budget. Sanchez’s work with the Rosenwald Eund also involved numerous activities beyond his role as the group’s pedagogical expert.
In November and December 1936 he lobbied the Louisiana State Department of Education on behalf of a ” “Dr. Sanchez Seeks Fulfillment of U. S. Promise to Navajos,” Austin Daily Texan, November 16, 1946, in George I. Sanchez Vertical File (Center for American History, Austin, Texas; hereinafter this collection will be cited as Sanchez Vertical File and this repository as Center for American History); George I. Sanchez, The People: A Study of the Navajos ([Washington, D. C], 1948). “^ G. I. Sanchez to Edwin R.
Embree, October 17, 1937, Folder 4, Box 127, Julius Rosenwald Fund Archives (Special Collections, John Hope and Aurelia Franklin Library, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee; hereinafter this collection will be cited as Rosenwald Fund Archives and this repository as Franklin Library) (quotation); Embree to Sanchez, October 29, 1937, ibid. Sanchez’s work for the “Instituto Pedagogico” occurred just after its creation in 1936 during a brief liberal phase of Venezuelan politics. For more on its creation, see Judith Ewell, Venezuela: A Century of Change (Stanford, 1984), 75.
“Dave Cheavens, “Soft-Spoken UT Professor Loaned to Coordinator of Latin-American Affairs,” Austin Statesman, December 3, 1943, in Sanchez Vertical File; “Texan Will Direct Training of Teachers,” Dallas Morning News, November 3, 1943, ibid. ; George I. Sanchez, “Mexican Education As It Looks Today,” Nation’s Schools, 32 (September 1943), 23, ibid. ; George I. Sanchez, Mexico: A Revolution by Education (New York, 1936). WHITENESS AND MEXICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS 511 Rosenwald teacher-training program and the broader issue of school equalization.
Equalization had been the primary avenue of African American activism that culminated with the Gaines v. Canada decision of 1938, which mandated that the University of Missouri either admit a black law student or create a separate, equal law school for African Americans. Sanchez also lobbied in Washington, D. C. , in February 1937, consulting with the Progressive Education Association and various government agencies on Rosenwald projects. ‘^ As one of his duties on the compendium project, Sanchez studied rote learning for rural African American children who lived in homes lacking in formal education.
This study was inspired by Charles Johnson’s mentor at the University of Chicago, Robert E. Park. Johnson, Sanchez, and other young researchers such as famed historian Horace Mann Bond were to look at ways to educate populations “handicapped by the lack of books and a tradition of formal education in the home. ” This venture was affiliated with the Tennessee Valley Authority and chiefly concerned with “raising the cultural level” of poor, rural African Americans more effectively than standard textbooks and pedagogies developed for privileged students in other parts of the country.
The project aimed to equip teachers to “integrate the knowledge which the school seeks to inculcate with the experiences of its pupils and with the tradition of the local community. ” Sanchez’s comparable work with bilingual education in New Mexico and Latin America fit well within the scope of the new undertaking. ‘^ Sanchez’s biggest project with the Rosenwald Fund was creating a well-recognized teacher-training program at the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute at Grambling.
Charles S. Johnson later described this Grambling teacher-training program as “among the most progressive of the community-centered programs for the education of teachers in the country. ” He praised the Grambling endeavor for offering African American teachers “opportunities for the development of creativeness and inventiveness in recognizing and solving ‘* Charles S. Johnson to Edwin R. Embree, October 16, 1936, Folder 1, Box 333, Rosenwald Fund Archives;
Embree to Johnson, October 23, 1936, and enclosed budget manuscripts “Supplementary Budget on Rural Education Compendium” and “Rural School Exploration, Tentative Budget 1936-37,” ibid. ; undated project time sheet [October 7, 1936 to April 27, 1937], Folder 3, Box 127, ibid. ;
Numan V. Bartley, The New South, 1945-1980 (Baton Rouge, 1995), 15; Compendium on Southern Rural Life with Reference to the Problems of the Common School (9 vols. ; [Chicago? ], 1936). ” Charles S. Johnson to Edwin R. Embree, January 21, February 25, 1937, Folder 5, Box 335, Rosenwald Fund Archives; Johnson to Dorothy Elvidge, June 23, 1937, and study proposal by Robert E. Park, “Memorandum on Rote Learning Studies,” March 3, 1937, pp.
2 (first and second quotations), 3 (third quotation), ibid. Sanchez left shortly after the project began. 578 THE JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY the problems to be found in rural communities, homes, and schools . . . .”^° Sanchez oversaw this project from its inception in September 1936 until he left for Venezuela in the middle of 1937. He set up the curriculum, the budgets, the specialized staff (nurses, agricultural instructors, home economists, and rural school supervisors), and equipment (the laboratory school and a bus for inspections).
These duties involved close coordination with Grambling administrators, Louisiana health officials, and state education and agriculture bureaucrats. Difficulties arose due to Sanchez’s departure. One Rosenwald employee summarized the program’s problems, “As long as George [Sanchez] was here he was the individual who translated that philosophy to the people at Grambling, and I am sure that you agree with me that he could do it far more effectively than the rest of us.
But now that Sanchez [sic] is not here it is the job of the president of the institution to do both this interpretation and this stimulation. . . . I do not believe [President] Jones knows them. “‘^’ Fisk’s Charles S. Johnson was elite company for Sanchez. Johnson’s devastating attacks on southem sharecropping influenced public policy and garnered praise from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He and others spurred the creation of Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet. “^^ Sanchez practiced a similar combination of academic research and social activism.
When he began his work at Grambling he had recently lost his position in the New Mexico State Department of Education due to his pointed advocacy of reform as well as his penchant for hard-hitting, publicly funded academic research on controversial topics such as the segregation of Mexican Americans in schools. He had long sparked controversy with his research on racial issues. What especially limited ^° Charles S. Johnson, “Section 8—The Negro Public Schools,” in Louisiana Educational Survey (7 vols, in 8; Baton Rouge, 1942), IV, 216 (first quotation), 185 (second quotation).
A copy of this volume is in Folder 5, Box 182, Charles Spurgeon Johnson Papers (Franklin Library). ^’ A. C. Lewis to G. I. Sanchez, October 14, 1936, Folder 13, Box 207, Rosenwald Fund Archives; Sanchez to Dr. R. W. Todd, September 28, 1936, ibid. \ Sanchez to Miss Clyde Mobley, September 28, 1936, ibid. ; Sanchez to J. W. Bateman, September 28, 1936, ibid. \ Sanchez to Lewis, September 28, 1936, ibid. ; Edwin R. Embree to Lewis, September 29, 1936, ibid. ; Sanchez to Lewis, September 30, 1936, ibid. ; Dorothy A. Elvidge to Lewis, November 27, 1936, ibid. ; Lewis to Sanchez, July 9, 1937, Folder 14, Box 207, ibid.; i. C.
Dixon to Lewis, March 17, 1938, Folder 15, Box 207, ibid, (quotation on p. 2); Sanchez, “The Rural Normal School’s TeacherEducation Program Involves . . . ,” September 17, 1936, Folder 16, Box 207, ibid. ; Sanchez, “Suggested Budget—Grambling,” April 9, 1937, ibid. ; Sanchez, “Recommendations,” December 9, 1936, ibid. ^^ John Egerton, Speak Now Against the Day: The Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement in the South (New York, 1994), 91-92; George Brown Tindall, The Emergence of the New South, ? 913-1945 (Baton Rouge, 1967), 543, 544 (quotation); Matthew William Dunne, “Next Steps: Charles S.
Johnson and Southem Liberalism,” Journal of Negro History, 83 (Winter 1998), 10-11. WHITENESS AND MEXICAN AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS 579 Sanchez’s future in New Mexico was a 1933 furor over his distribution of another scholar’s Thurstone scale (a psychometric technique developed in the 1920s) on racial attitudes to pupils in New Mexico’s public schools. Governor Arthur Seligman publicly demanded that Sanchez be ousted and that the General Education Board (GEB) cancel the grant funding his position in the state bureaucracy.
Partly due to the influence of New Mexico’s U. S. senator Bronson Cutting, a progressive Republican champion of Mexican Americans, Sanchez survived an ugly public hearing that resulted in the resignation of the University of New Mexico faculty member who devised the scale. Nevertheless, the incident severely constrained Sanchez’s future in the New Mexican educational and political arena. ^^ But Sanchez was not pushed into African American education simply out of desperation for employment. He appreciated the opportunities that the Rosenwald Fund provided to broaden his activism as a service intellectual beyond the Southwest. He was direct about this to his most ardent supporter.
President James F. Zimmerman of the University of New Mexico: “I’m sorry the [Rosenwald] Fund is virtually prohibited from extending its interests and experiments into the Southwest. This is the only disappointment I feel in connection with my present work. I feel it keenly, however, as you know how deeply I am bound up with that area and its peoples. At the same time, though, being here has given me a wider viewpoint and experience that may well be directed at my ‘first love’ sometime. ” Zimmerman was disappointed; he had groomed Sanchez for a faculty and administrative future at the University of New Mexico.
Despite the uproar in 1933 Sanchez’s talents were in high demand, however, as GEB agent Leo Favrot and Rosenwald director Edwin Embree coordinated which agency would carry Sanchez’s salary with the New Mexico State Department of Education in early 1935 (GEB) and during a yearlong research project on Mexican higher education from 1935 to the middle of 1936 (Rosenwald Fund) until he joined the staff of the Rosenwald Fund on a full-time basis for his work at Grambling. ^’* ^^ G. I. Sanchez to Leo M. Favrot, April 27 and May 11, 1933, Folder 900, Box 100, G.