Texas Women's History Month: Tejanas and Civil Rights

Mar 7, 2017

Even before the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that separate was not equal, Tejanas, especially members of the American G.I. Forum Women’s Auxiliary, lobbied for equal civil rights. An early victory, the 1948 lawsuit Delgado v. Del Rio prohibited public schools from segregating Mexican-American students.

“Frances con el árbol de la vida” by Santa Barraza.
Credit Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art (UT Press, 2016)

In the late 1940s, Tejanas organized a grassroots campaign to treat with dignity the remains of Felix Longoria, a World War II soldier whose hometown of Three Rivers refused to bury him. He was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in 1949.

 

Tejanas also worked to increase voting. In 1960, to elect a Democratic president, Manuela Contreras González and Dr. Clotilde García campaigned through Viva Kennedy clubs to get John F. Kennedy elected.

These clubs led to the formation of a group called PASSO, which fought to pay farm workers minimum wage. In 1963, the group voted out the Anglo political machine in Crystal City, winning all five council seats. This marked the beginning of the Chicano movement in Texas.

This month, KUT is partnering with the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation to celebrate Women's History Month. Every day, we'll bring you a short feature spotlighting a historic woman, movement, or group of women in Texas.