February 4, 2011
In his book, Major Problems in Mexican American History, Zaragosa Vargas describes the Mexican Immigrant experience from 1917-1928. He begins by assessing the Protestant religious experience for a Mexican in the early 1920’s, and then describes Mexican life in both Colorado in 1924 and Chicago in 1928. After defending Mexican Immigrants in 1929, he includes an outline of an Americanization program, followed by an anecdote of a Mexican immigrant in the 1920’s. Vargas uses these documents to show the evolvement of Americanization of Mexicans from a community goal to a societal demand.
Vargas begins with the Mexican Immigrant experience in the early 1920’s, and describes it mostly as a community project spearheaded by the Church and called for the aid of volunteers. The children learned and studied English in school, so the programs focused mostly on courses in English for the wives and mothers of the community. These English courses consisted mostly of vocabulary for familiar and most frequently seen objects. Sunday schools resulted from this process, and in turn made way for the development of night schools, clinics, an employment bureau, and a boys and girl’s club. In Colorado in 1924, Mexicans played a respectable role in society as not only a decent part of the population, but also the labor force. Spanish-Americans took a notable part in politics, and were involved in many occupations that included mostly agriculture, mining, and steel works. The recreation was also important to Spanish-American life in Colorado; the somewhat newly developed buildings were a source of community for many.
Mexicans in Chicago in 1928, Vargas argues, lived a very different lifestyle and endured different hardships than the Mexicans in the Southwest. They were a much smaller part of the community, consisting of small, well-defined neighborhoods and...