Hispanic Discrimination WGBH American Experience
Since the end of the Mexican war, for one hundred years, Mexicans had to deal with discrimination. In the 1950’s Mexican Americans were considered second class citizens. There were theaters, swimming pools and even public parks that did not allow Mexican Americans and were segregated. I was very surprised when they said “public” parks were to be segregated, it is outrageous that Mexican Americans couldn’t go to the Public Park, it isn’t public if all certain people couldn’t go. In the early 20th century, Mexicans were considered “white”, by law treaty grant of America’s citizenship, but yet they were still known as second rate. Over 300,000 Mexicans served in the army to fight for America thinking they will receive the right as first class, returning home to the same treatment as before. Discrimination was so bad for the Hispanics that cemeteries were even segregated, in which many funeral parlors refused to prepare Mexican bodies for burials. For example, Private Felix Longoria died fighting in the war and was returned to his hometown only to be rejected by the only funeral parlor in town to hold a memorial service. After a public campaign Felix was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
August 4, 1951, Joe Espinoza, a very well-known man in the community of Edna Texas, was shot in the heart by a crippled man by the name of Pete Hernandez in a restaurant. It was said that Joe said a very horrible remark in Spanish to Pete saying how nobody wants a crippled like you. So Pete walked home, got his gun, walked back to the restaurant and murdered Joe Espinoza. This was the beginning of a long journey of a civil rights case for Mexican Americans. Gus Garcia and Carlos Cadena were the lawyers of Pete Hernandez. Pete was trialed by an all-white jury which only took four hours to say he was guilty and sentenced to life. In the spring of 1952 Garcia and Cadena to argue for Constitution Protection for...
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