Mexican American Odyssey: Felix Tijerina, Entrepreneur and Civic Leader, 1905-1965

Overview

In Mexican American Odyssey, Thomas H. Kreneck not only traces the influential life of Houston entrepreneur and civic leader Felix Tijerina but also shows how Tijerina's enterprise influenced and reflected the trends in Mexican American development during years that were crucial for the Hispanic community. Kreneck outlines a pattern of identity and assimilation that has been traced in broader terms by other scholars, who have called Tijerina's contemporaries the "Mexican ...
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Overview

In Mexican American Odyssey, Thomas H. Kreneck not only traces the influential life of Houston entrepreneur and civic leader Felix Tijerina but also shows how Tijerina's enterprise influenced and reflected the trends in Mexican American development during years that were crucial for the Hispanic community. Kreneck outlines a pattern of identity and assimilation that has been traced in broader terms by other scholars, who have called Tijerina's contemporaries the "Mexican American Generation."

Felix Tijerina was born in 1905 in Mexico, although he publicly claimed to have been born in Texas. He worked his way from busboy and waiter to owner of a profitable, well- known chain of Mexican restaurants. The story of his economic success parallels that of other self-made American business leaders. But his contribution did not end there. He was an active leader of local, state, and national Mexican American organizations, and in those groups he worked to advance the Hispanic community and promote social harmony. Moreover, Kreneck demonstrates how Tijerina's life and efforts symbolized the history of a people who, by the time Tijerina died in the mid-1960s, were no longer lost in a sea of voices and ineffectual.

Emerging as a leader in such mainstream groups and boards as Rotary International and the Houston Housing Authority, Tijerina was a pioneer in Mexican American interaction with Anglos. He was particularly noted for his efforts on behalf of Mexican American education. While serving an unprecedented four terms as national president of LULAC, from 1956 to 1960, he launched an internationally acclaimed educational initiative called the Little School of the 400, to teach English to preschool Spanish-speaking children.

Through Tijerina's life, Kreneck illustrates the intricate relations between Anglos and Mexican Americans during the early and middle years of the century. He identifies both prejudice and opportunity in Tijerina's environment and analyzes the qualities that allowed the man to flourish within those circumstances. He also shows how Tijerina and his colleagues responded to the black civil rights movement that swept the South in the later years of his life.

Mexican American Odyssey thus portrays a significant individual and places him within a larger context as a member of a generation whose importance still affects society at large.

About the Author:
Thomas H. Kreneck is head of Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi. A specialist in developing local research resources, Kreneck founded the Mexican American archival component at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center.

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Editorial Reviews

Arnoldo De Leon
" . . . the writing is crisp, meticulous, and emotionally touching . . . we learn much about the diversity of the ‘Mexican American Generation’ from the discussion of philosophical stands that competed with [Felix] Tijerina’s own conservative brand."—Arnoldo De León, author, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston
Arnoldo De Le�n

“ . . . the writing is crisp, meticulous, and emotionally touching . . . we learn much about the diversity of the ‘Mexican American Generation’ from the discussion of philosophical stands that competed with [Felix] Tijerina’s own conservative brand.”--Arnoldo De León, author, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston
Arnoldo De Le���n

“ . . . the writing is crisp, meticulous, and emotionally touching . . . we learn much about the diversity of the ‘Mexican American Generation’ from the discussion of philosophical stands that competed with [Felix] Tijerina’s own conservative brand.”--Arnoldo De León, author, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Thomas H. Kreneck is head of Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. A specialist in developing local research resources, Kreneck founded the Mexican American archival component at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
Ch. 1 La Inmigracion 15
Ch. 2 From Obrero to Entrepreneur 37
Ch. 3 Emergence of a Latin American Leader 55
Ch. 4 Horatio Alger Success Story 88
Ch. 5 "Always Doing Something Nice": Felix Tijerina and Anglo American Groups, 1948-1956 120
Ch. 6 Siempre Haciendo por la Raza: Felix Tijerina and Latin American Groups, 1950-1956 147
Ch. 7 "In Exile from His Native Land": Felix Tijerina v. Herbert Brownell, Jr. 171
Ch. 8 The LULAC National Presidency, Part I: 1956-1958 192
Ch. 9 The LULAC National Presidency, Part II: 1958-1960 226
Ch. 10 Citizen Felix: The Final Years, 1960-1965 273
Notes 318
Bibliography 376
Index 383
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2001

    nice

    JUST LOOKING UP THE NAME THAT PEOPLE CAN BARELY PRONOUNCE AND HERE YOU'RE WRITING FOR THE WORLD. THE THINGS YOU WRITE ABOUT ARE TRUE NOT ONLY BECAUSE THEY ONCE HAPPENED, BUT BECAUSE THINGS LIKE THAT STILL KEEP ON HAPPENING. MY FAMILY HAS ALWAYS TRIED TO SUCCEED HOPEING THAT WE WILL PROBABLY BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING...SOME DAY. I AM ONLY 19 YEARS OLD BUT HAVE EXPERIENCE SO MANY THINGS, THROUGH THOSE SHORT YEARS; AS PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, AND WONDER HOW THINGS GET BY THE WAY THEY DO AND HOW GETTING THROUGH LIFE CAN MAYBE GET A LITTLE SIMPLER. JUST A FEW WORDS, HOPE YOU CONTINUE TO WRITE GREAT BOOKS!

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