White But Not Equal

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Overview


Check out "A Class Apart" - the new PBS American Experience documentary that explores this historic case! In 1952 in Edna, Texas, Pete Hernández, a twenty-one-year-old cotton picker, got into a fight with several men and was dragged from a tavern, robbed, and beaten. Upon reaching his home he collected his .22-caliber rifle, walked two miles back to the tavern, and shot one of the assailants. With forty eyewitnesses and a confession, the case appeared to be open and shut. Yet Hernández v. Texas turned into one of the nation’s most groundbreaking Supreme Court cases.

Ignacio García’s White But Not Equal explores this historic but mostly forgotten case, which became the first to recognize discrimination against Mexican Americans. Led by three dedicated Mexican American lawyers, the case argued for recognition of Mexican Americans under the 14th Amendment as a “class apart.” Despite a distinct history and culture, Mexican Americans were considered white by law during this period, yet in reality they were subjected to prejudice and discrimination. This was reflected in Hernández’s trial, in which none of the selected jurors were Mexican American. The concept of Latino identity began to shift as the demand for inclusion in the political and judicial system began.

García places the Hernández v. Texas case within a historical perspective and examines the changing Anglo-Mexican relationship. More than just a legal discussion, this book looks at the whole case from start to finish and examines all the major participants, placing the story within the larger issue of the fight for Mexican American civil rights.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816527519
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 258
  • Sales rank: 953,129
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ignacio M. García is a professor of history at Brigham Young University. He is the author of several books, including Chicanismo: The Forging of a Militant Ethos among Mexican Americans, also published by the University of Arizona Press.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

1 Pete, His Lawyers, and "the Town" That Discriminated 17

2 "The Mexican People Are of the Same Race" 52

3 Caucasian Cloak: Mexicans "White" for Judicial Conveniences 79

4 "May God Permit You Triumph in This Most Grand of Campaigns" 102

5 "There Must Be a White Man in the Wood Pile" 125

6 Lamentation, Deportation, and Integration for "Mexicans" 149

7 A Differentiated Class, Not a Class APart 170

8 A Victory for "Every Living Soul" 192

Notes 203

Bibliography 229

Index 235

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