Latino Empowerment Through Successful Legal Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

(State law did allow the segregation of black, Asian, and
Indian children.)" (Espinosa, 2)
In other words, even though the decision would reflect a positive
push forward for those involved in the Lemon Grove Incident and for Mexican
Americans of the time, it would hinge on a racialist rationalization that
maintained the overtones of prejudice enabling the segregation on schools
on a more general level. Even for Latinos on the longer timeline, this
would prove a poor resolution to the question of equal treatment in terms
of opportunity, or at least it would have mixed implications. The positive
and negative implications of the decision are revealed in the aftermath of
the Alvarez decision. As the article by Espinosa tells, "the Lemon Grove
case ultimately helped defeat the Bliss Bill in the California legislative,
which attempted to reclassify Mexicans as Indians so that they could be
legally segregated under California laws of the time." (Espinosa, 2) This
demonstrates that even as the decision helped to build the legal groundwork
to protect Mexicans against this discrimination, it also left much to be
desired in terms of casting a broader impact on questions of racial
segregation in the United States. It would not have the same all-
encompassing effect of Brown v. The Board of Education two decades hence.

4. Relation to Course Topics:

5. Historical Context
The accomplishment is also revealing of the patterns which often have
pushed aside the barriers to Civil Rights. Such is to say that it is
frequently in a time of heated battle on an issue that the greatest strides
will be made. Quite to the point, the Lemon Grove Incident would be
prompted by actions taken in a racially charged era and atmosphere. With
the onset of the Great Depression, American laborers began to view with
hostility and suspicion the immigrants flooding over the borders from
Mexico themselves in search of opportunity in a time of grave economic
stagnancy. Accompanied by a history of racial bigotry, this hostility
would take on a powerful form in legislation, public discourse and media-
distributed propaganda. Alvarez tells that the newspapers played a direct
role in stoking the flames of scapegoating against those of racial and
national difference. The Alvarez article reports that "by January 1931,
the Los Angeles press which was distributed in San Diego was focusing on
articles concerning the alien problem. The Illustrated Daily News on
January 26, 1931, stated 'Aliens who are deportable will save themselves
trouble and expense by arranging their departure at once.''" (Alvarez, 5)
The outcome would be an explicit targeting of Mexican and Japanese
citizens, with the former of these being deported by the hundreds of
thousands in aggressive raids of California barrios.
It would require a period of this type of racial intensity in order
to inspire self-defense through legal means on the part of those with a
right to protection by the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, confirming
Espinosa's early reference to the Bliss Bill, Padilla & Chavez (1995) note
that the success of the Lemon Grove parents "occurred during a time when
the California legislature attempted to reclassify Chicanos as Indians so
that they could be legally segregated in the schools. The Lemon Grove
Incident occurred twenty-five years before the Brown V. Board of Education
decision yet one cannot find it in the segregation literature. Neglectful
historical accounts can create a sense of nonexistence." (Padilla & Chavez,
151) This demonstrates that the mixed outcome of the decision was a
product of an era not truly ready for racial desegregation. Though this
case finds the law struggling with its own conscience over racial
questions, it would also be clear that the unique level of community
activism and the power generated by this specific group of Latinos would be
an isolated incident in its time and place. Against an enormous amount of
pressure as generated by an internally bigoted culture, the Latino families
of Lemon Grove would not necessarily alter the course of immediate racial
history in America but they would provide a mold for the type of revolution
that would reverberate throughout American society, culture, law and polity
in the decades to come.

Works Cited:

Alvarez, R.R. (1986). The Lemon Grove Incident: The Nation's First
Successful Desegregation Court Case. The Journal of San Diego History,
32(2).

Espinosa, P. (1986). Lemon Grove Incident. National PBS Broadcast.

Padilla, R.V. & Chavez, R. (1995). The Leaning Ivory Tower: Latino
Professors in…

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