ED 315 252
AUTHOR TITLE PUB DATE NOTE
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RC 017 367
Marin, Christine Mexican Americans on the Home Front: Communitl Organizations in Arizona during World War II. Apr 87 29p.; Paper presented to the National Association for Chicano Studies (Boulder, CO, April 1987). Fcr related article, see RC 017 368. Historical Materials (060) -- Information Analyses (070) -- Speeches/Conference Papers (150) MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage. *Community Action; Community Organizations; Community Support; *Ethnic Discrimination; Females; Local History; *Mexican American History; Mexican Americans; *Patriotism; Social History; *Social Organizations; World War Ii *Arizona; Chicano Studies
During World War II Arizona's Mexican-American communities organized their own patriotic activities and worked, in spite of racism, to support the war effort. In Phoenix the Lenadores del Mundo, an active fraternal society, began this effort by sponsoring a festival in January 1942. Such "mutualistas" provided an essential support system in the face of racism and discrimination, zInd were sources of cultural, social, and religious cohesion in Mexican-American communities. 7.1ese societies spoke out after several blatant incidents of discrimination against Mexican-American teenagers, and later organized a Phoenix youth group that collected 2,200 pounds of old rubber for the war effort. Community organizations in Phoenix and Tucson also: (1) organized volunteer cotton pickers when a labor shortage threatened the crop, badly needed for parachute and blimp manufacture; (2) sponsored social gatherings in honor of Chicano military cadets; (3) arranged bilingual community education classes American citizenship; (4) collected donations to provide cigarettes to soldiers overseas; (5) sold war bonds anc -. ".r stamps; (6) collected clothing for the Red Cross; (7) planted victory gardens; (8) collected scrap metal and foil for recycling; and (9) provided child care services for mothers performing war-related activities. After the war most organizations disbanded, but one Tucson women's group continued to perform community service until 1976. This pac-er contains 30 endnotes. (SV)
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Mexican Americans On the Rome Front: Community Organizations in Arizona During World War II.
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TO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)."
By: Christine Marini
The Mexican Americaill'experience in Arizona during the World War II period can be studied frbm new perspectives and viewpoints.
Other than in its main importance in the social history of ethnic minorities in the Southwest, it can be placed in the context of United States social history. It can certainly be placed in the context of Mexican American, or Chicano history, since World War II
was a major turning point for Mexican Americans. It is generally accepted by Chicano historians that World War II provided a variety of opportunities for changing and improving 2.
economic and social positions of Mexican Americans.
soldiers were exposed to life outside the barrio and later the G.I. Bill of Rights to provide them higher education, job training,
business and home loans, those left behind at home continued to struggle with the evils of racism and discrimination still common and prevalent in their communities. Mexican Americans were still segregated in theatres, and restaurants, and barred from public swimming pools, and dance halls, and other establishments. Inferior education or lack of educational opportunities remained a deepseated problem in the Southwest in general, and in Arizona in particular. In Arizona history, the war determined the role it was to play in its view and treatment and recognition of its own ethnic minorities.
This paper does not attempt to analyze the military history of Arizona's iole in World War II. It does, however, try to explain the manner which Mexican Americans organized themselves within their own
BES1 WV) pitiful Am;
communities to become important, patriotic Americans in wartime. It also shows that Mexican Americans in Phoenix and Tucson, in
spite of racism, supported each other's efforts to combat such racism and "help win the war" for all Americans. Such activism in wartime was complemented and 'even duplicated in other Mexican
American communities throughout the state.
There are some problems, however, in this paper of Mexican American participation on the Home Front in Arizona's history during World War II. For example, one cannot build on previous literature, since little topic.
has been written and analyzed on this
Most Arizona historians or scholars have virtually ignored
the ethnic history of Mexican Americans during this important period. In my opinion, they have failed miserably to recognize a valid, fascinating, and viable aspect of Arizona history.
New Mexico's historian, Gerald D. Nash, however, offers new insight on how World War II transformed the American West from a "colonial economy based on the exploitation of raw materials into a diversified economy that irciuded industrial and technological components."
His contention is that this changed economy encouraged the influx of large numbers of ethnic minorities in the West, especially Mexican Americans and Blacks, and thus diversified the ethnic composition of the West. To say this is true for Arizona, a state which is increasingly becoming an important region to the United States due to its rising growth and po....ulation, requires further
study and investigation by social scientists and those who analayze
and compile economic and demographic data.
Arizona was organized as a territory in 1863 and was admitted to the Union as the forty-eighth state in 1912. Its population on April 1, 1940, according to the Sixteenth Census,was 499,261, which represented an increase of 63,688, or 14.6 percent, as compared with the population on April 1, 1930.
Three major race classifications
were distinguished in the Sixteenth Census tabulations, namely White, Negro, and "other races." Persons of Mexican birth or ancestry who were not definitely American Indian or of other nonwhite races were classified as White in 1940. Thirty percent of Arizona's population was represented by persons of Mexican descent. Approximately 15,000 Mexican and Mexican Americans lived in Phoenix; and it has been estimated that 12,000 of that same group lived in Tucson in 1940.6* Mexican Americans in Phoenix at this time lived in the same barrios they traditionally lived in when the Anglo-American speculators and carpetbaggers and entrepreneurs arrived in 1867. This area was near the south side of the Salt River. The land was undesirable to the Anglo, mainly because of occasional heavy flooding
and later, because of its proximity to unsightly railroad
tracks. By 1930, the large Mexican barrio had been split into two distinct sections. The poorer district, bounded by Washington, Sixteenth, and Twenty-fourth streets and the river, contained a shack town of the poorer Mexicans, and a "7-Up Camp," a block of shacks alTng the teffh
side of the railroad tracks housing hundreds
of Mexican families. The second section of this same barrio was concentrated between Second and Fourth Avenues south of 7. Madison Street. By 1940, this same large barrio consisted of
smaller barrios from within, such as "Cuatro Milpas," "Little
Hollywood," and "Golden Gate," for example. Here, Mexicans and Mexican Americans owned their small businesses, stores, houses, and built and attended their own churches; they generally lived apart and away from the Anglo residential areas and pockets
of Anglo growth and business and economic development, which grew further north of the barrio. That the Mexicano traditionally lived in sub-standard housing and poverty
as a negative
reflection and attitude on the part of the Anglo business and community leaders who dominated the cityland who collectively
preferred to ignore the sad plight of members who shared their same community.
Various sectors of Phoenix's Mexican American community readily supported the war effort almost immediately after the war was declared late in 1941. The Lenadores del Mundo (Woodmen
of the World), an active Mexican fraternal and life insurance society in the community, sponsored the "Diamond Jubilee' to show Mexicano support for the war effort and for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The festival and dance was held at the meetlaig hall of the Lefiadores on the rrezident's birthday, January 30, 194?.96
Other mutualistas, such as the Alianza Hispano-Americana, the Club Latino Americana and La Sociedad Mutualista Porfiro Diaz were also active in Phoenix and throughout the state during this
period, and had begun to compile a remarkable record as early as 1894. Such mutualistas provided an essential support system for the Mexicano against vestiges of racism and discrimination.
Many proved to be the sources of cultural, social, and religious
cohesion in Mexicano communities, and they remained strong and solid organizations in serving the needs of the Mexicanos.
Racism towards young Mexicano boys and girls receiving civil defense training and instruction were reported to the
Governor of the state, Sidney Preston Osborn, by a well-known and respected Mexican American community leader from Tucson, Vicente Alfaro. Two state-wide National Defense Training Schools were set up under the federal jurisdiction of the National Youth
Administration. The National Youth Adminstration was a New Deal
program initiated on June 26, 1935, and provided for the educational and employment needs of America's youth. Resident vocational training centers provided classroom instruction in clerical work, machine tool work, arch welding,. and library skills, for example.
The training school for the boys was in Tempe, and the other school for the girls was located in Coolidge® Coolidge was approximately 25-30 miles south of Phoenix, and was located in 1 another county, Pinal County. Tempel at this time was a small
farming and stock raising community with a population of approximately 3,000 people, and was just nine miles east of Phoenix,
along the Salt River. Vicente Alfaro knew of Mexicano boys and girls who were cruelly subjected to racial and ethnic slurs, searegated in their teaching surroundings, and verbally abused
and embarrassed among the other Anglo students. In his own
correspondence to Governor Osborn, he wrote: "Among the youth present the opening day were numerous representatives of the Spanish-American race from the various cities throughout the state including Tucson, which sent a major number. Upon presenting themselves at the aforesaid project in Tempe, the SpanishAmerican youth was informed by ...Mr. Cox [Tempe director of the schooDin not very flattering terms that as SpanishAmericans were not fit for employment in National Defense Work, it was utterly useless for them to start receiving instruction at his project...With respect to the Coolidge project of the N.Y.A. it appears that a similar situation exists and that discrimination of the most vile nature was and is being practiced. The girls were and are being treated as dirty Mexicans and Greasers and looked upon as outcasts." 12. Alfaro told Lhe Governor in his letter that many Mexican American Tucson families brought this situation to his attention,
and asked him to rectify the discrimination, and to ask the Governor to correct these injustices. Alfaro also reminded the Governor in very diplomatic terms that since the United States espoused a "Good Neighbor Policy" in order to gain the friendship of neighboring Latin American countries, then that policy should begin to "set our house in order and create goodwill,
understanding, and unity among the potpouri&iCi of races and nationalit'es which constitute the people of the United States of America...
In his reply to Alfaro, Governor Osborn
reiterates various platitudes and cliches of Americanism, and
agrees with Alfaro that all American citizens are certainly
entitled to fair and just treatment. He also reminds Alfaro that the NYA is a "federal set-up and one with which the governor, or no state official, has anything whatever to do.
It is certainly
under the control and management of the United States government. "14'
There is nothing in the documentation to show whether or how this matter was ever resolved. However, the Governor does ask
Jane H. Rider, the Arizona Youth Administrator of the NYA, to investigate Alfaro's complaints. The record, however, is not 01°08'0
im ihammOPtimi it therefore whowa no reply to hie
request; nor is there correspondence from the Governor to Vicente Alfaro regarding these incidents of racism in Tempe.
Mexican American youths again were targets of racism in the copper mining community of Morenci, located approximately 250
miles southeast of Phoenix. And again, the Governor's lack
of action to correct a racist incident disappointed the Mexican Americans who sought his help. This time, several Mexicano leaders from Phoenix, who were active sponsors and organizers of the city's only Mexican American Boy Scout troop, appealed to Governor Osborn in the Spring of 194246 use his power
of office to change a long time segregation policy of two Morenci facilities: the Morenci Club, and the Longfellow Inn.17' The Morenci Club offered recreational facilities to Anglos only, and was owned by the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. The Longfellow Inn was a public restaurant in the community. The Boy Scout Troop 1 134, with S.A. Morales, William R. Sanchez, S.G.
vino, and Alberto Montoya as its leaders, planned on
attending a two-day Music ClinIc at the Morenci Club. Here, the group was to learn about the use of instruments and
musical arrangements in the performance of musical events for their communities. Young boys and girls would sing and play patriotic music, and hear various groups perform their music.
But their attendance and participation at the event was called off when the Scout leaders read in a local newspaper publicizing the event that "the Morenci Club and Longfellow Inn were not
open to Spanish-American people." The article continued with this note: "Please caution your students on this as we do not wish anyone to be embarrassed." 18.
Outraged at such blatant and
open racism aimed at the young Boy Scouts who symbolized the youth and democracy of the United States, the scout leaders sent a signed petition to the Governor asking him to send a symbolic public apology on his behalf to the newspaper that published the article. They expressed to Governor Osborn the humiliation and embarrassment and shame felt him
by the boys in the troop, and reminded
that these boys were American citizens who were entitled
to fair Ind honest and democratic treatment in their own state. But no apology ever appeared in the Phoenix nor the Morenci newspapers decrying such policies in regards to the incident.
In spite of this racial atmosphere, other Mexican American youths in Phoenix participated in a wartime crisis that affected the country at large. When the Standard Oil Company challenged all neighborhoods in July of 1942 to compete in the gathering of that much-needed and des3red war product--rubber--the youngsters
from the Marcos de Niza housing project combed their Phoenix neighborhood for all materials made of rubber. They gathered old and discarded tires and other materials made out of rubber or latex. Their final accumulation of rubber totalled more than 2,200 pounds for the war effort, the most poundage gathered than that of other youth groups in the city. Their "prize" for such an accomplishment was in the form of a picnic-party. The group was treated to pies, sherbert,cakes, candy, sandwiches, and other refreshments. Rogelio Yanez, U.S. Housing Authority's Mexican American representative for the Marcos de Niza housing project, worked with other Mexicanos from various mutualistas such as the Lenadores del Mundo, and the Alianza Hispano Americana to sponsor and pay for the party. 19.
Other mutualistas such as the Club Latino Americana and La Sociedad Mutualista Porfiro Diaz were instrumental in the organization cf Mexican American cotton pickers during a drastic shortage of farm labor in the valley's cotton fields in Phoenix. This labor shortage nerved as the catalyst for the total Mexican American community to become united with the larger Anglo community in an emergency harvest of cotton. In October, 1942, the "Victory Labor Volunteers" responded to the call.20.
Long-staple cotton was desperately needed to make parachutes, blimps, and gliders for the American troops overseas. These "Victory Labor Volunteers" generally were
made up of members of civic clubs, women's social clubs, churches, and garden and veterans groups within
he Anglo segments of
the Phoenix area. The volunteers were leaded by an informal, voluntary committee whose sole interest was doing emergency war
work whenever it was needed. Citizens throughout the city were encouraged to enroll and volunteer to harvest the cotton crop at a minimum of half a day a week. Volunteers were paid $3.00 per 100 pounds for long-staple cotton, and $1.50 per 100 pounds for short-staple cotton. Volunteers were to register with cotton canvassers at the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce office, or at nearby U.S. Employment Service offices.
The Spanish-language newspaper in Phoenix, El Sol, ran a lengthy advertisement in its October 9, 1942 issue calling for the Mexican American community to participate in a patriotic show of Mexicano unity and become cotton pickers. 22 Oomen and school
children were also encouraged by various mutualistas to participate in the picking and bagging of cotton. The Phoenix Union School system permitted students to be absent from classes one day a
week, and then only to pick cotton. Transportation was provided by the city on a daily basis from various pickup locations
within the Mexican American barrios of Marcos de laza, Golden Gate, Riverside, Cuatro Milpas, and East Lake. And transportation trucks left from neighborhood locations such as Conches Grocery,
Washington Elementary School, and the Friendly House.23These trucks also picked up Mexicanos from residential areas near Fourteenth Street and Henshaw Road; Ninth Street and Washington;
and East Lake Park to the cotton fields located in the valley. It was estimated that within a three-week period, 5,000 Mexican American workers, men, women, and children, harvested over 35,000 pounds of long-staple cotton for the nation's war effort.
Thus, this cotton harvest emergency brought a rare opportunity for Mexicanos and Anglos to share equzlly in a patriotic, community effort during a tense and difficult labor and cotton shortage.
These two examples of Mexican youth participation in Anglodominated activities may provide insight into how the Mexican Americans created their own separate support systems in times of crisis, and yet co-existed with Anglos to/ontribute to a larger demand. In these examples, national wartime emergencies enabled and even required these two distinctive groups to organize within their own communities to work together towards a larger common goal. The larger goals of collecting rubber and harvesting cotton were met, even though the tv- groups stayed within their own social boundaries and worked separately, and did not perform as work companions who work side by side. The tremendous response5to these clitical wartime emergencies also showed how the war briefly united Phoenicians Who crossed ethnic lines in order to meet economic challenges. In these examples, each group contributed equally to a vision of American unity and American victory.
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activation In the early stages of the war, Phoenix saw the Latino cadets of several military installations and air bases. and honored by the undergoing training nearby were welcomed
dinners, dances, Mexican American community with testimonial the period from social gatherings, and community meetings in 25 the countries February 17 to March 10, 1942. These cadets represented and of M4xico, Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and symbolized Latin American friendship with the
Americans in wartime. United States, and also her support of the Club of Phoenix Community Mexican American alumni from the Spanish College, "Los Ositos", helped in sponsoring and arranging dinners
and receptions for the cadets throughout the Mexican American community, and arranged for cadets to be guests in many of the Mexicanos' homes.
26 The cultural ties shared among the community
pride with these cadets reinforced any feelings of ethnic, cultural country was at war, and commonly shared by Mexican Americans whose
whose country faced an uncertain future. in other community Mexican Americans in Phoenix participated
projects related to the war effort. American citizenship classes 7
House2, a social were taught by the bilingual staff of the Friendly service center formed to provide for the needs of the I mican and
United States Constitution Mexican American community. Classes on the also were held on a daily basis at the Friendly House, and were presentations of such classes, available in the evening. Through the helping members of the Spanish-speaking community felt they were
in the war effort by studying to become American citizens.
Obtaining American citizenship may have been an accepted way for the Mexicans to show his patriotism and loyalty to the United States and the war effort. It was, therefore, a unique opportunity for the Mexican American community to be accepted into the larger American
society that reflected an ethnic bias and still maintained vestiges of racism and segregation in its social structure. Religious organizations in the community also enabled parishoners to enroll in citizenship classes. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, located in the Marcos dP Niza community at 909 East Washington Street,sponsored the newly formed Boy Scout Tr000p No. 47 in 1943.
Mexican American boys were encouraged to become involved in the scouts' activities. Since it was felt that the American character wastormulated and developed through the Boy Scouts organization, Mexican Americans believed that their youths could be molded into productive, patriotic, and loyal Americans eager to support their 28.
country in times of war. Early enrollment numbered over 25 boys who became active in Troop No. 47, the only Spanish-speaking troop of the Boy Scouts organization in Phoenix.
When the ministers of the Phoenix Ministerial Alliance of Spanish Speakir, Cnu:ches met in the Mexican Presbyterian Church in February of 1943, they adopted a resolution which urged the Mexican American community to participate in war related activities. The Alliance encouraged its members to take an active ,nterest in
city politics, to register to vote in city elections. Since the nation was at war, it was believed that Mexican Americans would become more interested in their community's political issues. Their votes would thus become important votes in support of the war effort abroad.
Another patriotic gesture in the form of public donations festered in the Mexican American community in Phoenix in August of 1943. The editor of the Spanish-language newspaper, El Sol, Jesus Franco, and the prominent physician in the community, Dr. A.G. Del
Valle Lugo, organized a drive to collect money for the purpose of purchasing cigars and -Agarettts for the American soldier overseas, regardless of his ancestry or place of birth.
The local Mexican American community took advantage of this opportunity to donate whatever amounts of money they had for such tobacco purchases. Individuals were encouraged through various advertisements in El Sol to take their contributions to the newspaper's offices on Third Street and Washington. The patriotic fever infected the entire community. The cigarette drive began in mid-August and
was scheduled to end on September 10. In spite of the wartime hardships imposed upon the community, the donations remained steady and consistent. Any amounts of money were accepted through El Sol, and those individuals who gave as little as ten cents contributed as much to tho? war effort as did those who donated one dollar or five dollars.
This patriotic gesture was lauded in issues of El Sol
throughout the duration of the tobacco drive. The names of those who contributed were acknowledged and printed in the newspaper. By the end of the drive in mid-September, almost $300 was collected from the Mexican American community in a month's time. 30.
And most of the donations were small ones. The money was deposited in a local bank by the Treasurer of the tobacco drive, Miguel G.
Robles. He later presented the money to a military representative on behalf of the Mexican American community of Phoenix. No newspaper accounts were found to indicate that the Anglo community also participated in this drivejor a similar one; nor was
indication that funds were collected for the purchase of cigarettes 31.
for the American soldier abroad.
In 1944, the Mexican American community of Tucson was also doing its share to help win the war abroad. Mutual aid and benefit organizations such as the Alianza Hispano-Americana and the Lefiadores
del Mundo helped sell war bonds. Religious organizations within the Mexican Catholic parishes, such as El Centro Club and the Club San Vicente added their suport by collecting scrap metal. Social and Service clubs such as the Club Latino, the Club Trienta, and Club Anahuac also supported the Allied cause through various ways.
While these were mainly either male or female-male clubs, other Mexican American women in the community played an equally important part in the Tucson war effort. Through the efforts of Rose Rodriguez, a secretary at Tucson City Hall and a member of the Junta PatriAica, a Mexican American community service
organization composed of both men and women, the organization known as the Asociacicin }Iispano- Americana de Madres y
Esposas (the Mexican American Mothers and Wives Association) was formed in 1944.
The functions of this organization were similar to those of any other patriotic organization during this wartime
period. Yet, the Mexican American women of Tucson also had some unique and distinct goals from the Anglo women who had their own separate social clubs and ladies' organizations. One of their specific goals was
to lift the morale of the
Mexican American soldiers who were away from the Tucson area. And another goal was to build a recreation center for the exclusive use of the Mexican American soldier. These women did not purposely segregate themselves from the other kinds of wartime activities organized by the Anglo women; rather, they felt the need to reinforce that cultural, emotional, and traditional sentiment commonly shared among Mexican Americans who faced a wartime crisis: their loved ones were away at war, and were deeply missed by their own families. Through their own organization, these women would
unite the Mexicanos and Mexicanas in their community, and
would help them deal with the hardships of war.
The women in this organization were those who also had sons, husbands, brothers, or other family members in the military, and many were serving overseas. Their ages ranged from young to old, and they represented various socio-economic backgrounds. Many were young homemakers, others were working
class women who toiled as section hand workers on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Some women had paraprofessional office jobs such as that of secretaries or sales clerks; still others were much older women who maintained households
while their eldest sons were away. And membership in the AsociaciOn Hispano-Americana de Madres y Esposas was not strictly limited to married women or to the mothers of servicemen. All women who wanted to participate in the group were encouraged to do so.
The early activities of the Asociacicin focused on the sales of war bonds and war stamps. The Mexicanos and their families considered it a privilege to buy war bonds, as they believed that through such sales their men serving abroad
would never be without military armaments needed to defend themselves in battlefront situations. 34° In the period
from April, 1944 to July, 1945, the Asociacidn'HispanoAmericana de
Madres y Esposas sold over $1 million dollars
worth of war bonds and war stamps. The purchase
bonds and stamps were made by the Mexicano community in Tucson.
The Mexicanas of Tucson experienced war's daily trials and took up the home front responsibilities. They collected clothing for the Red Cross to be sent to war-torn,
devasted countries. They also sent clothing to social service agencies in Mexico.
The women combed their neighborhoods for scrap metal. They saved foil from candy, gum, cigarette wrappers, and turned in large quantities of the foil to collection centers.
The homemaker became just as important to the war effort as the women who ,:orked in a defens,
job. Mexicanas planted
their own "victory" gardens. They learned to bottle and to preserve vegetables and fruits. They saved waste fats and turned in their collection of fats and grease, which yielded glycerin for high explosives. They collected tin cans--the tin went into armaments and cans for the soldiers' C-rations.
The Mexicanas also maintained their household equipment in efficient shape and decreased fuel consumption. With an increasing demand for paper by the government, the supply of paper at home was reduced. They then salvaged old magazines and newspapers. They made things last, or else they did
without. The Abociacin offered childcare services in the members' homes for the mothers who we=e performing war-related services, such as donating blood and bandages to the Red Cross, or gathering food for the U.S.O.r and for those women who performed duties required of them as air-raid war&'ns. Clearly, the Mexicanas proved their resourcefulness in the home.
During the height of its activity, the Asocia.'icin
incorporated into a non-profit entity and purchased land on which to build the recreation center it so
agerly sought to
erect for the Mexican American soldiers of Tucson. The money needed to pay property taxes for the land came from the treasury and from their successful sales cf their community newspaper, the Chatter. 37.
By August 1945, however, many Mexican American soldiers began to return home to Tucson. This signaled the steady decline of the Asociacion. Some of the group's most active women soon resigned their membership, as their families were being reunited. Husbandsl.sons, brothers were home. With the
war over, tnere was no longer a need for the mass distribution of Chatter. There were al
no more war bonds and stamps to
sell at community events or gatherings. Nevertheless some of the women kept the organization active, despite the fewer numbers in the group. Their goal remained the same--that of building a recreation center for the Mexican American soldier. The women also remained busy helping families readjust to postwar life. In August of 1945, the Asociacion had $2,700 in its treasury coffer. 38 Ohile interest in the Asociacion decreased
over the postwar years, the activity of its leaders remained constant. Eventually, the demands of the Asociacion on the few remaining members became too much to handle. Twenty years
aier the Asociacion was organized, however, the Arizona Corporation Commission revoked the group's non-profit certification in 1964-65, citing inactivity for the action. Members had at times neglected to submit annual reports. But the Asociacicin
struggled along, continuing its effort
to remain a viable and strong community organization by
helping the needy within their community. In 1971, they again filed their reincorporation papers with the Arizona
Corporation Commission, with the intention of raising funds to spend on providing for the needs of the elderly. When they realized they were the only ones attending the group's meetings in 1976, the four remaining members of of the Asociaci6n, Lucia M. Fresno, Dolores C. Delgado, Luz M. Lopez, and Juanita L. Lorona voted to dissolve the organization.
Records do not show why the recreation center was not built after the war. It may have been too expensive to do so, and perhaps the treasury had been pretty much depleted by the property taxes the Asociacion had to pay on the land it owned and intended for the center. Or perhaps the members no longer felt the center was necessary. The veterans were too pre-occupied with finding jobs and putting their lives back together again to be concerned about a recreation center.
Other factors were to account 'or the inactivity of the .-
Asociacion over the years. As the members grew older, illness and perhaps a lack of mobility kept them from being as active in the organization. And Death also took its toll among the elderly women in the group. 40.
These Mexicanas showed their own unique unity of purpose, finding different ways of working together as Mexicanas and
within their Mexicano community in a "man's war." The Asociacicin ceased to exist long after the war ended. And
it was their committment to helping their community that kept them together over the years. In
e war years, Mexicanos and Mexicanas in Arizona
united their communities and committed themselves to fighting an American war, their war. And as they fought this w-r on the home front scene, they also fought to maintain their own unique ethnic identity. They strengthened their cultural bonds
among themselves in order to reaffirm their own brand of an American identity.
Mexican Americans in Phoenix and Tucson needed their own heroes and heroines--men and women and children--who could personalize and simplify the larger wartime struggle. The Mexican Americans in these communities proved themselves to be such homefront heroes and heroines, meeting a challenge to do its share to advance the Allied cause, while retaining the morale of their Mexicano communities through social and cultural activities.
In spite of the culture clashes between the Mexican American and the Anglo, and the racism and prejudice ever
prevalent against them, the Mexican Americans in Phoenix and Tucson still showed the same unity of purpose and intent in the 1940's
that even the Anglo shared. And that
intent was Lo help win the war abroad. Unfortunately,
however, the great bond that seemingly held and united Americans from different ethnic strains--/orld War II --
was not strong enough to break all the racist barriers
of the war years. The Mexican American soldiers fighting overseas for democracy abroad left behind those in their hometowns to struggle for this
at home, in
Arizona. The Mexican communities of Phoenix and Tucson, men, women, and youths, created their own separate American home front activities in their own communities. These Mexican Americans also leave behind a historical legacy which is manifested in a cultural and ethnic pride which can be defined simply as Mexican Americanism. This form of nationalism, pride in one's ethnicity
and cultural history, coupled with the Mexican American's patriotic feeling of Americanism during the war years, convinced him that racism was un-American and also unpatriotic.
Therefore, it was his duty and responsibility
to eradicate it from his - ommunity.
The Mexican American soldier was the cultural and historical symbol of Americanism and social equality. At
home, the Mexicano and the Mexican American was the brave patriot who remained loyal to America as he sacrificed his soldier-son for honorable causes of freedom and democracy.
Such a sacrifice is the legacy the Mexican Americans of the 1940's
leave behind for the rest of us to acknowledge and
The term "Mexican Americaeas used in this paper literally means a combination of both Mexican and American. I use it in a generic sense to include the Mexicano, the Latino, the Mexicans, the SpanishAmerican and the Hispano who lived in the southwestern states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado. I may use the terms interchangeably in order to reflect the terminology used during the World War II period in the Southwest. Mexican Americans also used these terms interchangeably to identify themselves, and the terms are found throughout Spanish-language newspapers during this period. The terms group together those who speak Spanish, and imply a cultural, linguistic, and social bond which unites the Spanish-speaking in the Southwest. 2
The role of the Mexican American in World War II in Chicano history has been interpreted by Rodolfo Acufia, Occupied America: a history of Chicanos (New York: Harper & Row, 1981); Ralph C. Guzman, "The Political Socialization of the Mexican American People," (Ph. D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1970); Carey McWilliams, North From Mexico: the Spanish-Speaking People of the United States (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968); Matt S. Meier and Feliciano Rivera, The Chicanos: A History of Mexican Americans (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972); Robin Fitzgerald Scott,. "The Mexican-American in the Los Angeles area, 1920-1950: from acquiescence to activity," (Ph.d. dissertation, University of Southern California, 1971). The work by Raul Morin, Among the Valiant: Mexican-Americans in WW II and Korea (Alhambra, Calif.: Borden Publishing Co., 1966) stands out as the definitive work which cites the military participation and outstanding heroism of the Mexican American soldier on the battlefront. Mario T. Garcia expertly defines and examines the rise of the Mexican American political generation in Los Angeles in his article, "Americans All: the Mexican American Generation and the Politics of Wartime Los Angeles, 1941-45," Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 65, No. 2, June, 1984, pp. 278-289; Christine Marin, "Chicanos in World War II Phoenix," Paper Presented at the National Association of Chicano Studies: the 10th Annual Conference. March 25-27, 1982. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. 3Contributions made by Mexican American women in Tucson have been documented in:christino Marin, "La Asociacidn Hispano-Americana de Madres y Esposas: Tucson's Mexican American Wz.,men in World War II," La Mexicana/Chicana. Renato Rosaldo Lecture Series Monograph. Vol. 1, Series 1983-84. (Tucson: Mexican American Studies and Research Center, University of Arizona, 1985), pp. 5-18. 4
Harry T. Getty, IalusthnigRelationships in thg csmmunity TUCSOn (New York: Arno Press, 1976) provides a social analysis of Tucson's Mexican American community during the period between 1945 ,-d 1947. The prominent Spanish-language newspapers of Phoenix and Tucso., El Sol and El Tucsonense, should be considered primary sou.:ces of vital information for learning the important wartime activities of the Mexican American in these areas.
`Gerald D. Nash, The American West Transformed: the impact of the Second World War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), p. vii. 6
Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940. Population. Second Series. Characteristics of Population. Arizona.(Wash., D.C.: USGPO, 1941), pp. 3; 36; Nash, The American West Transformed, p. 110. 7'Michael J. Kotlanger, "Phoenix, Arizona: 1920-1940," (Ph. D. dissertation, Arizona State University, Tempe, 1983), pp. 427-428. 8
'In 1941, the Phoenix Housing Authority completed the separate housing projects, "Marcos de Niza," for Mexican Americans, and the "Mathew Henson," for Blacks, on the south side of Phoenix. The housing project for the Anglos, "Frank Luke, Jr.", was built in east Phoenix. These three housing projects were constructed with a $1,900,000 grant from a New Deal program and accommodated units for six hundred families. It is common knowledge that racism and discrimination towards ethnic and racial minorities prior to and during World War II was prevalent in Phoenix. See: Michael J. Kotlanger, "Phoenix, Arizona: 1920-1940," (Ph.D. dissertation, Arizona State University, Tempe, 1983); Herbert B. Peterson, "A Twentieth Century Journey to Cibola: Tragedy of the 'Bracero' in Maricopa County, Arizona, 1917-1921," (Masters Thesis, Arizona State University, 1975); Christine Marin, "Patriotism Abroad and Repression at Home: Mexican Americans in World War II." Unpublished Manuscript. 1977; James E. Officer, "Arizona's Hispanic Perspective," a Research Report, 38th Arizona Town Hall, May 17-20, 1981 (Phoenix: Arizona Academy, 1981); Bradford Luckingham, "Urban development in Arizona: the rise of Phoenix," Journal of Arizona History, Vol. 22, No. 2, (Summer, 1981), pp. 197-234; Shirley J. Roberts, "Minority Group Poverty in Phoenix," Journal of Arizona History, Vol. 14, No. 4, (Winter, 1973), pp. 347-362 .See also the newspaper articles: "Que Hay Discriminacion y SegregaciOn de los Mexicanos en Arizona!" El Sol, 4 Feb. 1943, pp. 1;6; "Hay Escandalosa DISCRIMINACION. Valientemente se enfrenta a es*..a situacion el Diputado Francisco Robles y J.C. Carreon." El Sol. 11 Feb. 1943; pp. 1;6; "Perdonalos Senor." CEditoriap El Sol, 18 Feb. 1943, p. 2; "Advertancias acerca de la discriminacidic:" El Sol, 13 March, 1942, p. 1 "Discriminacicin Mexicana en Phoenix," El Sol, 18 June 1943, pp. 1-2; "Afrentosa discriminaci6n en Phoenix," El Sol, 2 July 1943, p. 1;8; "Phoenix will rot...unless it integrates, says a controversial report." New Times (Phoenix),19-25 Dec. 1984; "Racial ban common in deeds in Valley, attorney maintains," Arizona Republic (Phoenix) 1 Aug. 86, Sec. A, p. 2. ;
Baile," El Sol, 23 Jan. 1942.
Alianza Hispano-Americana was a fraternal insurance society that was first organized in Tucson in 1894. Like other mutual aid societies in Arizona, the ANA offered low cost life insurance and social activities to its members. See: Kaye Lynn Briegel, "Alianza Hispano-Americana, 1894-1965: a Mexican American Fraternal Insurance Society" (Ph. D. dissertation, Univ. of Southern California, 1974); James D. McBride, "Liga Protectora Latina: an Arizona Mexican-American Benevolent Society," Journal of the West, Vol. 14, No. 4, (October, 1975) pp. 82-90; James E. Officer, "Sodalities and Systemic Linkage: the Joining Habits of Urban Mexican-Americans" (Ph. D. dissertation, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, 1964); Jose Amaro Hernandez, "The Political Development of Mutual Aid Societies in the Mexican American Community; Ideals and Principals," (Ph. D. dissertation, Univ. of Calif. at Riverside, 1979). See also the newspaper accounts: "Resurgiran los Latinos," El Sol, 3 April 1942; "Los Mexicanos en Esfuerzo de Guerra," El Sol, 16 October 1942. 11 Tempe
educators and city leaders were targets of the Mexicano's opposition to racism and discrimination in three separate incidents in 1912, 1925, and 1946. Mexicanos settled in what is now Tempe in 1865, when the Ft. McDowell military post was established. The early settlement of San Pablo, later known as "Mexican Town" by the Anglos of Tempe, was already firmly established in 1874. The town itself was later incorporated as Tempe by the Anglos in 1895. Just after Arizona statehood in 1912, the Mexicanos were the center of controversy, legal action, and racism when they learned they could not perfect title to their lands, which they developed , because their farms and homes were in what was called "Section 16." This area, which under the new Constitution of Arizona and its precedent Organic Act,was a school section, and was not subject to permanent settlement. Consequently, the Mexicanos lost their land. From 1914 to 1926, only Mexican children attended the Eighth Street School. In 1915, the Tempe School District now known made an agreement with the Arizona State Teachers' College as Arizona State University) that allowed them to use Eighth Street School for a University Training School to establish Americanization programs for the segregated Mexican children in grades 1-3. The agreement lasted until 1950-51, when the primary students moved to Wayne Ritter School nearby. In 1925, Adolfo "Babe" Romo, whose family settled in the area in the 1800's, filed a lawsuit (now known as the "Landmark Case") in behalf of his children who were attending the segregated Eighth Street School. In October, 1925, Superior Court Judge Jol;eph Jenckes ruled the Romo children could attend the lCth Street Grammar School. The following Monday morning, several Mexican (
children attended school there. However, the enrollment at the Eighth Street School was completely Mexican American until 1945, during World War II. The third racial incident involved the desegregation of "Tempe Beach," the city's public swimming pool. Tempe Beach was opened in 1923, and did not admit Mexicans. On May 20, 1946, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce agreed to admit Mexican Americans to Tempe Beach in response to legal pressures from Mexican American World War II veterans from Phoenix who formed the Tony F. Soza Thunderbird Post #41 of the American Legion. See: Governor's Files: George Wiley Paul Hunt. Box 3. File Folder 129: "Schools, Segregation in." Arizona Department of Library Archives and Public Records. Phoenix, Arizona; Ruby Haigler,"Tempe, tie Center of the garden spot of Arizona." Unpublished Manuscript, 1914. Arizona Collection. Hayden Library. Arizona State University, p. 7; "Historical and Architectural Survey. Prepared for the City of Tempe Neighborhood Development Program." Vol. 1. Prepared by a Joint Venture, CNWC Architects and Gerald A. Doyle & Associates. Unpublished Manuscript. 1976. Arizona Historical Foundation. Hayden Library. Arizona State University, p. 19; "Obituary: Rose Frank," Tempe Daily News, 8 Feb. 1985, p. A-11; Tempe School District No. 3. Centennial History. (Tempe: Tempe Elementary School District, 1977), p. 1; iodolfo Acufia, Occupied America: a history of Chicanos. 2nd Ed. (N.Y.: Harper & Row, 1981), p. 330. 12 See the correspondence from Vicente Alfaro to Governor Osborn,
July 31, 1941 and August 8, 1941, in: Governor's Files. Sidney Preston Osborn. Listing 1940-1946. Box 19: "National Youth Administration for Arizona, 1940-1942." Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records. Phoenix, Arizona.
"Ibid. Alfaro letter to Gov. Osborn, July 31, 1941. 14lbid. Osborn letter to Vicente Alfaro, August 8, 1941.
15Ibid. Osborn letter to Jane Rider, August 8, 1941. 16 Governor's Files. Sidney Preston Osborn. Listing. 1940-1946.
Box 20: "Race Prejudice, 1941-1942." Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records. Phoenix, Arizona.
was established as a mining camp in 1884. Bitter Labor strikes and racial conflicts involving Mexicano miners and the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation have occurred in the Clifton-Morenci mining districts since the late 1800's. Morenci is located in Greenlee County in southeastern Arizona, near the New Mexico border, and is approximately 250 miles southeast of Phoenix. See: Joseph F. Park, "The History cf Mexican Labor in Arizona During the Territorial Period," (Masters Thesis, Univ. of Arizona, 1961); Roberta Watt, "History of Morenci, Arizona," (Masters Thesis, Univ. of Arizona, 1956); Michael E. Casillas, "Mexicans, Labor, and Strife in Arizona, 1896-1917," (Masters Thesis, Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1975), pp. 82-105; James Ward Byrkit, "Life and Labor in Arizona, 1901-1921: With particular reference to the Deportations of 1917," Ph. D. dissertation, Claremont Graduate School, 1972; James R. 70.rizona Kluger, The Clifton-Morenci Strike: labor difficulty :e 1915-1916 (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1970); A. Brophy, Foundlings on the Frontier; racial and religio... conflict in Arizona Territory (Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1972); James B. Allen, The Company Town in the American West (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1966),pp. 43-49; 103. 18 Governor's
Files. Sidney Preston Osborn. Listing. 1940-1946. Box 20: "Race Prejudice, 1941-1942." Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records. Phoenix, arizona. 19
"Los niios Mexicanos de Phoenix triunfaron en el certamen del hule," El Sol, 4 July 1942. 20 For lengthy accounts of the work achieved by the Mexican
American "Victory Labor Volunteers," see the following newspaper articles: "Los Mexicanos en Esfuerzo de Guerra," El Sol, 16 October 1942; "Constituye un Maytisculo M4rito para los Mexicanos que se han sumado a los Voluntarios de la Victoria," El Sol, 23 October 1942; and "La Pizca del algodon," El Sol, 30 October 1942. 21
See the newspaper accounts: "Canvassers to seek cotton field army," Arizona Republic, 28 September 1942; "Labor Volunteers reach 3,476 total," Arizona Republic, 30 September 1942; "Arizona cotton-picking project needs 2,500 more workers," Arizona Republic, 3 October 1942; "Victory Labor drive sparks city's greatest community effort," Arizona Republic, 4 October 1942.
El Sol, 9 October 1942.
Friendly House was one of the agencies that grew out of the Americanization Movement. It was founded in 1921 through the efforts of the Phoenix Americanization Committee. Plgcida Garcia Smith, a former teacher from Conejos, Colorado, and director of the Friendly House for the yeafs 1931 through 1963, was active in the Mexicano community and became dedicated to helping in the Americanization of Mexican immigrants in Phoenix. For an excellent account of the Friendly House history and the Americanization Movement in Phoenix, see: Mary Ruth Titcomb, "Americanization and Mexicans in the Southwest: a history of Phoenix's Friendly House, 1920-1983" (Masters Thesis, Univ. of California at Santa Barbara, 1984). 24
See: "La Pizca del algodon," El Sol, 30 October 1942 and "Victory Labor drive sparks city's greatest community effort," Arizona Republic, 4 October 1942. 25
See the following: "Bolitin de la Comunidad Marcos de Niza," El Sol, 17 February 1942; "En la comunidad :Marcos de Niza," El Sol, 20 February 1942; "Homenaje a los Cadetes Latinos," El Sol, 23 February 1942. 26
"El Junior College festeja a los cadetes Hispano-Americanos," El Sol, 10 March 1942. 27
"Se dargn clases de Constitucion," El Sol, 4 February 1943.
'2.. Marra, "El Sol,
"Vote is urged by ministers," Arizona Republic, 23 February
For varl.ous accounts of this cigarette drive, see the following articles: "Para Los Soldadost," El Sol, 20 August 1943; "Se formaliza la campana de coleccion de fondos para envio de cigarros a los soldados," El Sol, 27 August 1943; "La Colecta para cigarros," El Sol, 10 September 1943; "Nuestra colecta para los cigarrosi," El Sol, 1 October 1943.