CHAPTER 14 | SUMMARY!

Whilst I have taken some time away from summarizing the chapter notes from my reading of “EL NORTE” (Gibson, 2019), I am happy to say that the reading of the chapters are complete. Although I do wish to write an overall summary, for now I return my focus to summarizing and reflecting upon Chapter 14 which is entitled: “Los Angeles, California, ca. 1920s-70s” (2019, p. 347-381), which I also tried to include parts of this chapter as current events progressed as blog posts entitled: MLB WORLD SERIES 2021!, iHeart Fiesta!!! as part of the completion for 2021’s Hispanic Heritage Month. COLUMBUS AND INDIGENOUS DAY 2021. and Nuestra América Española!

The chapter begins as type of abstract effect to take pieces from previous chapters that are concerned with the desire for a re-creation of a desired past. The romanticism between the Spanish and Mexican was almost as the tone spilling from the period of Romanticism that emerged from Europe between the 1800 – 1850th century. The era of romanticism focused on the arts, music, literature, and the development of the intellect. The ethos – the desire of emotional expression spurred from within. Which is absolutely present with the mingling of what Gibson writes as Spanish-Mexican romanticism. Yet, the root of what is termed as Mexican collides with Spanish and Indigenous.

Cultural conservationist efforts are noted. Christine Sterling who desired to create a Mexican-Spanish intersection, within the modernity of cities. Sterling’s efforts that began in the early 19th century (1920) can still be seen today with Olvera Street in LA, California. Of Christine Sterling Gibson conveys her life connected to literacy and the film industry as “colors of Spanish-Mexican romance” (p. 347).

Olvera Street Sign LA, California.

Efforts such as these were intertwined with the artists and in particular the Mexican Muralists and Mural Movements. David Alfaro Siqueiros as per invitation painted a mural on the walls of Olvera Street in 1932, entitled as the American Tropical (p. 349) as Los Angeles was known as the heart of one of the nations modern cities (p. 350). The artistic movement intersected with the film industry as Hollywood was booming with film, fashion and the love for what is “Mexican” continued. Previous revolutionary efforts such as the Mexican wars, revolutions, independence and figures such as Pancho Villa were romanticized through what was known as the Mexican Golden Age of Cinema (p. 350). Culture was popularized also from publication such as The New York Times and Mexican Vogue. Books were developed into films such as Romana, starring Dolores del Rio and directed by D.W. Griffith.

Films and Composers

  • The Birth of a Nation – D.W. Griffith
  • Romona – D.W. Griffith
  • Mexican composers – Juan Garcia Esquriel and Jhonny Richards
  • Zorro – The Masked Crusader created by Johnston McCulley
  • Mexican composers – Aaron Copland and Carlos Chavez (p. 351)

The desire of the past with the present in the contexts of this writing were merged with the desire to preserve Siqueiros, and to revolutionize the Mexican muralist as a renaissance with what is termed as the Big 3 consisting of: Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. The murals were also a source of controversy. To reflect upon this idea: I think that it is quite normal – as Art desires its interpretation. Not everyone will see what is in the minds eyes of the artist. Art can be assimilated with politics. It can convey messages that are socio-political. Art can appeal to the eyes, art can also unfortunately destruct, art can be a source to build diplomatic relations and much more. However, the murals desired to communicate as what is Mexican? Chicano was racial mixing with people of Mexican descent born in the USA. Mestizaje was Mexican racial mixing with European and Amerindian.

Diego Rivera

Man of the Crossroads Mural – created much controversy because of Diego Rivera’s link to communism, which is also depicted in the film entitled Frida. The mural included a depiction of Lenin. Vladimir Lenin was a Russian politician / revolutionary who supported communism. Rivera re-created the Man of the Crossroads mural with a design that he kept in Mexico City, which is now found in Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (p. 352).


The controversy of the murals is almost a type of Segway as to what happens next. As the desire to create harmonious relations became disrupted with riots and protests. The demand for rights were spurred from the rise of immigration and the rise of unemployment. Mexican immigration was blamed, however; the increasing prejudice within Mexico workers led to the establishment of The Confederación de Unions Obreras Mexicans, that is translated as: Confederation of Mexican Workers Union in 1927 (p. 353).

The Establishment of Unions and Societies

  • Mutual aid societies formed in New York, Florida and Mexico
  • The Confederación de Unions Obreras Mexicans
  • Mexican Mutual Aid Society of Imperial Valley – established for worker rights
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) formed in 1929 – Encouraged individuals to learn English
  • La Alianza – Alianza Hispano-Americana – provided vital health care services during the struggles and riots

The riots and protests disrupted the harmonious spirt that were created by the earlier artistic and cultural conservationist movements. The murder of Jośe Diaz deeply severed relations as gang and riot movements continued. Jośe Diaz Ramos was a Spanish politician who was murdered, little is know of him, nor were there world-wide protests. However, El Nacional a newspaper publication in Mexico City wrote that the “sowers of hate will not destroy the good neighbourliness, nor divert either of the two countries in their common effort against the axis” (p. 357). The 1930s was known as the brutal decade for Mexican and Mexican Americans. (p. 354).

The riots and gang related civil war was intersected with the second world-war, WWII. Mexican-Americans, Puerto-Ricans and Americans were encouraged to enlist in the military. Hispanic origin served and engaged in military service, and were also given the incentive to become naturalized citizens upon a lands that were initially claimed by the Spanish / Hispanics. Naturalization also provided a way to legal entry to the USA. Military service and civic engagement allowed Hispanics to be thought of as shared stake holders of American society, who deserved equal prosperity. Hector Garcia and Senator Lyndon Johnson were leaders who pushed for prosperous relations.

Hector Garcia – Dr. Hector P. Garcia was born in Mexico – 1914. He fled Mexico during the Mexican revolution, and eventually settled in Mercedes, Texas. Garcia became a physician in Corpus Christi, and was disappointed with all the prejudices that he encountered. Hector Garcia established the American GI forum (AGIF) with the continued idea of patriotism. Prejudices against Hispanics, Mexicans became serious, which led to an investigation by William P. Blocker in 1942. This led to the introduction of legislation, to enact laws for the better treatment of Mexican Caucasians. This bill was improved in 1945 to grant equal rights in terms of goods and services for all Mexicans in 1945 (p. 362).

Senator Lyndon Johnson – Johnson worked with Hector Garcia as he believed that establishing friendly relations with Mexicans. Garcia produced a report that was critical of illegal entry, it did disrupt the Mexican-American community, but Garcia continued to advocate for the Bracero Program and Mexican rights. Senator Lyndon Johnson went on to become the 36th of the United States of America.

Urban Renewal

The acquisition of the land that the LA Dodgers stadium was built upon was a very close-knit neighbourhood. However, this was not the only example of the desire for urbanization, another is the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts. Urban Renewal became legislation, in-particular because of the condition of housing, habitual spaces and housing discrimination especially noted by historian: David Gutiérrez (p. 370). Urban renewal is also depicted in the film entitled: West Side Story, where the Puerto Ricans are the Sharks and the Polish Americans are known as the Jets (p. 369).

Legislation

  • 1942 – Bracero Program
  • 1952 – McCarran Walter Act
  • The Housing Act of 1949
  • The Housing Act of 1954
  • The Fair Housing Act of 1968

John F. Kennedy – Mexicans were described as the step-children of nation (p. 372) which can either be interpreted as +/-. In the contexts of the reading my view was developed to a positive as efforts were enacted to provide prospect for the Hispanic vote, especially with the John F. Kennedy Presidency. With this increased morale, Dr. Hector P. Garcia also began to campaign for the Kennedy Presidency.

Helpful Links:

  1. Dr. George I. Sanchez – American Education Pioneer
  2. Day of San Lorenzo – The Spanish make peace with the Pueblos.
  3. Emma Beatrice Tenayuca – American Latina Labor Activist and Communist Party Leader
Our Lady of Guadalupe – Church in Ciudad, Chihuahua State, Mexico.

Related Blog Posts:

Image 1 – Link The featured image at the beginning of this blog post is from Ciudad Juarez, the area formally known as The North Pass the city in Mexico State that links bordering spaces of the USA and Mexico.

Reference: Gibson, C. (2019). EL NORTE The Epic and Forgotten History of Hispanic North America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.

Notes: This blog post was originally hand-written on October 28th 2021. Please note that these are my thoughts and views upon my reading to gain an understanding of American history of what interested me within this chapter, there are many more points that have not been discussed within my writing. 

With Love & Kindness! 🙂

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