Brown, Not White
School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston
Mexican American Studies - Southern History - Western History
6 x 9, 298 pp.
9 b&w photos., 6 tables.
Pub Date: 10/26/2005
University of Houston Series in Mexican American Studies, Sponsored by the Center for Mexican American Studies
  paper
Price:        $21.95 s

978-1-58544-493-9
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Outstanding Book Award. Presented by the History of Education Society
Best Book on the History of Education Published in 2001. Presented November 2002.

Brown, Not White

School Integration and the Chicano Movement in Houston

By Guadalupe San Miguel Jr.

Strikes, boycotts, rallies, negotiations, and litigation marked the efforts of Mexican-origin community members to achieve educational opportunity and oppose discrimination in Houston schools in the early 1970s. These responses were sparked by the effort of the Houston Independent School District to circumvent a court order for desegregation by classifying Mexican American children as "white" and integrating them with African American children—leaving Anglos in segregated schools. Gaining legal recognition for Mexican Americans as a minority group became the only means for fighting this kind of discrimination.

The struggle for legal recognition not only reflected an upsurge in organizing within the community but also generated a shift in consciousness and identity. In Brown, Not White Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., astutely traces the evolution of the community's political activism in education during the Chicano Movement era of the early 1970s.

San Miguel also identifies the important implications of this struggle for Mexican Americans and for public education. First, he demonstrates, the political mobilization in Houston underscored the emergence of a new type of grassroots ethnic leadership committed to community empowerment and to inclusiveness of diverse ideological interests within the minority community. Second, it signaled a shift in the activist community's identity from the assimilationist "Mexican American Generation" to the rising Chicano Movement with its "nationalist" ideology. Finally, it introduced Mexican American interests into educational policy making in general and into the national desegregation struggles in particular.

This important study will engage those interested in public school policy, as well as scholars of Mexican American history and the history of desegregation in America.

Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., who holds the Ph.D. from Stanford University, is an associate professor of history at the University of Houston. He is also the author of "Let All of Them Take Heed": Mexican Americans and the Campaign for Educational Equality in Texas, 19101981, now available as a Reveille Book from Texas A&M University Press.

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . significant and groundbreaking contribution to the field of educational history. It is an extremely well-written and meticulously researched book and should be on everyone’s must-read . . .” --Educational Researcher
“. . . San Miguel, Jr.’s synthesis is near flawless . . .” --Educational Researcher
“. . . excellent . . .” --Educational Researcher
“. . . depth and sophistication . . .” --Educational Researcher
“His eye for detail really serves as a great theoretical framework for social movement scholars to consider in their future analyses.” --Educational Researcher
“Scholars of educational history should be excited about the new and important contributions.” --Educational Researcher
“. . . an invaluable contriutions . . .” --Educational Researcher
“. . . publication increases our awareness of the complex and differing educational experiences African Americans, Latino/as, and Native Americans have historically faced in American society.” --Educational Researcher
“. . . demonstrate the need for us to continue writing and rewriting these histories to better understand the aspirations and actions of people traditionally marginalized in our education system and society.” --Educational Researcher

San Miguel does an excellent job analyzing the emergence of Mexican Americas as political force in Houston. His discussion of the early years of the community is very informative, while his detailed analysis of the dramatic events of 1970-1971 draws attention to a significant turning point in the history of the city and its increasingly diverse population.” --East Texas Historical Association

Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. provides a provocative account of a little-known struggle for educational reform that occurred in Houston, Texas, in early 1970's. Brown, Not White, sheds light on the politics of governance in Houston, in this case between a public agency, the school board, and the Mexican American community. The study carefully examines how democratic ideals are subverted by a local state body and the community’s attempts to restore those ideals. This is the story that Guadalupe San Miguel Jr. examines and analyzes so well.” --The Journal of American History,

“San Miguel provides a provocative story from the Mexican-American viewpoint on how school desegregation plans, which identified Mexican Americans as white, clashed with efforts by Mexican Americans to gain recognition of their cultural identity from the school system. In addition, he greatly contributes to our understanding of the influence of the Chicano movement on local school activism among broad group of Mexican Americans during the period.” --History of Education Quarterly

“San Miguel has written a fascinating and important account of the Chicano huelga in Houston, one that illustrates Chicano activism in parts of Texas other than the Rio Grande Valley. Accessible yet sophisticated, this book reads well and functions at numerous levels, which will make it valuable to a wide range of audiences.” --Journal of Southern History

“The heart of the narrative, Chapters Five through Nine, is where San Miguel most powerfully takes the reader straight into the process by allowing the events and the actors to speak for themselves. These five chapters take the reader through a roller coaster as San Miguel provides an incredibly vivid and rich account of community mobilization and its impact.” --Journal of American Ethnic History

“Fascinating and compelling. For readers hoping to gain insights into the complex politics these trends will surely generate in this century, San Miguel’s book provides an excellent introduction.” --American Historical Review

“Provides a needed interpretive work on the intersection of the Chicano movement with public school education, community activism, and the politics of identification. This book is ideal for a number of courses, including the history of education, urban studies, ethnic politics, and Mexican-American studies. It is a much-needed work that focuses on the politics and strategies of the Chicano movement in metropolitan areas. Its historical importance for the future of Hispanics in higher education is crucial, because the public school education of young Mexican-Americans lays the foundation for young people to have the necessary tools for pursuing university training and careers. Brown, Not White’s interpretation of Houston’s struggles documents the importance of an earlier generation’s accomplishments.” --Hispanic Outlook

When Houston I.S.D. circumvented a court order to desegregate by classifying Mexican American children as “white” and integrating them with African American children, while leaving Anglos in segregated schools, the Mexican American community fought back. San Miguel here traces the evolution of the community’s political activism in education during the Chicano Movement era of the early 1970s. “Brown, Not White contributes significantly to the history of Chicano movement and school desegregation in the American West, and is a must read for public school officials, community activists, and educators interested in seeking educational equality for all groups, including Mexican Americans.” --Western Historical Quarterly

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