As we approach National Hispanic Heritage month, I cannot help but remember the first time I learned about segregation of Mexican-Americans in Texas public schools. Growing up I never really enjoyed history, but surely I would have remembered hearing about that in school. I recall learning about the conventional notion of segregation; that of blacks and anglos, but there was no mention about browns or Mexican-Americans. The truth is, the segregation of Mexican-Americans was not taught in the history books when I was in school.

This missing piece of history poses an important question: If “Whites Only” signs were posted everywhere at one point in history, where did that leave the brown people, my people? Where did they fit into the piece of the puzzle we call history? What schools did they go to? How did they integrate once segregation was outlawed? After all, the U.S. Census bureau includes five racial categories, but brown, Mexican-American, Latino, or Hispanic are not one of those categories.  I have so many more questions! Did you know that Mexican-Americans were segregated in this manner? Why does the Census state, “Hispanic origin can be viewed as the heritage, nationality, lineage, or country of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors,” but it does not classify it as a race? Why didn’t our parents or grandparents talk about it? Perhaps even more importantly, in our seminary context, what – if anything, does this have to do with ministry? 

First of all, if you have not listened to our President, Dr. Tony Celelli’s message, “Guardians of Modern Morality” from August 29, 2019, let me encourage you to listen to it. You can find it here: https://stark.edu/podcast/dr-tony-celelli-guardians-of-modern-morality/

Next, I encourage you to join us for Tuesday chapel, September 10th at 6:30 p.m. as we hear from Bernardo Vargas regarding, “How to Respond to Issues of Racial Injustice.”

Last, I also encourage you to join us as we examine the history of Mexican Americans and their education in Texas – a land that was once primarily known as Spanish or Mexico from 1690 – 1836, but now the land where we live, work, and serve our churches and communities. There is an untold story about the history and heritage of Hispanics in our surrounding communities and our state. In an effort to love thy neighbor, I invite you to join us Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 11:25 a.m. as we view the film “Stolen Education” to learn more about this issue and grow in knowledge together. 

 

References

Chipman, Donald E. Spanish Texas, 1519-1821. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.

 

This article was written by Tina Villarreal Cooper. She is the Vice President of Student Experience at Stark College & Seminary and is pursuing her Ed.D. at TAMUCC.