Mexican American Social and Political Action and the Rise and Fall of Black-Brown Cooperation during the period of Dallas Independent School District Desegregation, 1969-2003

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Alliances between African Americans and Mexican Americans are a concept many believe rarely succeed and are often ineffectual. However, this dissertation shows Mexican American and African American activist groups in Dallas found shared causes that supported each other’s missions and built crucial political alliances. Through a Black-Brown alliance Mexican Americans exerted significant influence in guiding school policy and city government. This study shows that Mexican Americans were a guiding force in policy and government change in Dallas from the 1970s to the early 2000s. To show how Mexican American political capital grew this work begins by looking at events that served as catalysts to bring African Americans and Mexican Americans together. Some key events revolved around the shared tragedy of police violence against children and young men. This connection is also heightened by a concurrent struggle to stop the school district from subverting degradation. Mexican Americans abandonment of white status and a combined minority status were key factors in the success of the coalition. During the coalition period white voting still outstretched any Black-Brown alliance. Despite being hindered in electoral strength the coalition found power as a united voice that could influence the courts more than win elections. This work shows that an effective network of activism and alliances between African American and Mexican Americans for over a decade worked to change the city and school policy. Despite the success, racial homogeneity is a myth often thrust on minorities. Division within the Mexican American and African American communities as they grew and strengthened fostered competition for leadership. Just when an alliance might be able to make change without court assistance, neither group’s leaders wanted to yield. However, the ability of Mexican Americans to work with either African American or white counterparts put them in a position to gain significant influence. Despite the dissolution of the larger alliance, Mexican Americans by 2000 helped to shape school policies on bilingual education, cultural programs, and hiring. However, before the alliance faltered this work shows that the alliance helped to force a reorganization of city government and gained both sides new school facilities and better school programs.

Embargo status: Restricted until 09/2028. To request the author grant access, click on the PDF link to the left.

Desegregation, Dallas, Black-Brown, Civil Rights, Mexican American, African American