The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring 1986, Volume 32, Number 2
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor
by Robert R. Alvarez, Jr.
First Prize, Weinberger Award
San Diego History Center 1984 Institute of History
The history of school desegregation legislation in the United States is not often associated with the Mexican Community in Southern California and is usually thought to have begun with the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. the Topeka schoolboard.1 It has recently come to light that the earliest court cases concerning school desegregation occurred in the Southwest and California in the 1930s.2 In these cases Mexican immigrants and their communities were the targeted groups of segregation by school officials. A case of particular importance, which has begun to take its place in the social history of civil rights, occurred in San Diego County during the 1930s, in the then rural community of Lemon Grove. This case: Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District, was the first successful school desegregation court decision in the history of the United States.3 It is important in San Diego and U.S. history, not solely because it occurred but because the community took court action and won the case they established the rights of their children to equal education, despite local, regional and national sentiment that favored not only segregation, but the actual deportation of the Mexican population in the United States.4 The case is a testimony of the San Diego Mexican community’s rights and their actions towards equality in education not only for their own children, but for the Mexican population in California and the United States.
In 1930 Lemon Grove boasted a number of attractive businesses centered around productive agricultural fields. The La Mesa Scout (1926) described Lemon Grove as “one of the prettiest spots in the San Diego suburban district…the hills surrounding the town are covered with fine lemon and orange groves that are producing hundreds of thousands of dollars…each year.”
Among the advantages of Lemon Grove are an “excellent women’s club”, one of the finest golf courses in Southern California, paved road, churches and a…”live wire chamber of commerce that will gladly assist anyone who desires to locate here…” In addition to the civic and business opportunities described, Lemon Grove was served by its own grammar school. “A fine new building has recently been completed that offers every facility of the well equipped schools.”
In describing the residents, the article states that within . . . “the Lemon Grove district will be found many of the better class of people who have selected San Diego County as their home. Among these people are professional and businessmen of San Diego…it would be hard to find a better class of people anyplace.” This blissful view of Lemon Grove and its prominent residents was overshadowed in 1931 when the Mexican community challenged the school board for the educational rights of their children.5
In addition to the prominent citizens, Mexican immigrant families had settled in Lemon Grove just after the turn of the century. Most of the families had immigrated into San Diego County from a number of closely related hometowns in Baja California.6 Many had meandered through a Baja California mining circuit arriving in San Diego by land. Others had come via steamer from company ports and coastal towns. Families arrived from San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, Loreto, Comondu, San Ignacio, Calmalli and other towns that today are mere place names in the central desert. Most families had endured the migration north together sharing the hardships and family experiences. When they arrived in San Diego, these Californios sought help and camaraderie from each other once they crossed into the United States.7
For the Californio, as for other Mexicanos, Lemon Grove provided jobs in agriculture, a local mining quarry, a railroad packing house and relatively easy access to the growing City of San Diego. It was a geographically confined community and very similar to the hometowns from which people had come. Some fifty families settled here, most of which were of Baja California heritage. These families included Cesena, Alvarez, Castellanos, Smith, Blackwells, Arce, Mesa and others who bonded together and formed a community of Baja Californios in Lemon Grove.
Their unity and perseverance were tested as never before during the early part of 1931. Most of these families had been in Lemon Grove for a number of years and had offspring who were first generation American citizens by birth. Seventy-five of these children attended the Lemon Grove Grammar School where a total of 169 students were enrolled.
On January 5, 1931, Jerome T. Green, principal of the Lemon Grove Grammar School, acting under instructions from the school trustees, stood at the door and admitted all pupils except the Mexican students. Principal Green announced that the Mexican children did not belong at the school, could not enter, and instructed them to attend a two room building constructed to house Mexican children.8
Dejected, embarrassed and angry, the Mexican children left the school and returned home. Instructed by their parents, they refused to attend the so-called new school that had been built for them. In the words of students of the time “It wasn’t a school. It was an old building. Everyone called it ‘La Caballeriza” ‘ (the barnyard).9
This was a turn of events that the school board had not counted upon. The board expected the Mexican children and families to act docile, follow orders and attend the new school. The Mexican parents rallied together and through the Mexican Consulate, acquired legal counsel and support. The school incident became a test case of the power of the District Attorney and the school board to create a separate school for Mexican children.10
This separation had been carefully planned by the school board. On July 23, 1930 some six months before the barred entrance, the board met. They discussed the separation which had received the endorsement of the Chamber of Commerce.11 On August 13, a special board meeting was called because the situation of the school had reached emergency conditions and the “…board wanted a special school for the Mexican children.” No at-tempt was made to inform the Mexican parents, and the board, in a following meeting decided against any official notice so as not to commit themselves in writing.12 Twenty days later, the children were expelled from the main school. Desks and all personal belongings of students had been moved to the “new” structure.
These actions by the school board were not isolated events and had been sanctioned to a great degree by the Great Depression and a resulting anti-Mexican sentiment not solely in San Diego, but throughout California and the entire U.S. In order to grasp the social forces that set this action in motion, it is important to understand the larger socio-economic and historic events that conditioned the events in 1930 San Diego and Lemon Grove.
Prior to any planning or decisions by the Lemon Grove school board concerning the Mexican separation, there had been several public and officially sanctioned antecedents that set the tone for the actions at local community levels throughout the State of California. Among these were: (1) national changes in immigration policy specifically aimed at curtailing Mexican Immigration to the U.S.; (2) a national repatriation plan geared to alleviate the Mexican alien problem that was viewed as a major cause of unemployment and public welfare costs; (3) in California, official reports and measures that heightened latent prejudices and fears concerning the growing Mexican population. The events of the times are important here because they illustrate the social environment within which the school board took action and also illustrate the barriers faced by the Mexican community of Lemon Grove in their attempt at justice.
Before the turn of the century Mexican immigration was not a problem in the United States, but by 1920 there was a strong restrictionist campaign in the country. Large influxes of Mexicans into the Southwest and a growing Mexican population stirred public concern about the immigration and settlement of alien Mexicans in the United States.13 Most large American cities had Mexican enclaves by 1924. Omaha had a population of 1000, Detroit reached 15000 by 1929, and significant numbers of Mexicans were identified in Chicago, Kansas, and other U.S. cities.14 But the majority of Mexicans were in the Southwestern states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and California.
In 1924, government action to control the unrestricted influx was taken. Along the U.S. Mexican Border a 1917 immigration head tax was enforced for the first time.15 And Congress created the Border Patrol as a force to com-bat the entry of Mexicans into the U.S.
In addition to government action, the press focused attention on the growing Mexican population. In 1928 when the U.S. Senate opened hearings on the Restriction of Western Hemisphere Immigration16 and through 1929, the Saturday Evening Post, with a circulation of over 2.7 million, published a series of articles in strong support of a restrictionist policy limiting Mexican immigration.17 In an editorial of January 7, 1928, the Post stated: “Every consideration of prudence and sound policy indicated that Mexican immigration must be put under quota restrictions”.18
Kenneth L. Roberts who had written a series of articles in favor of European Immigration restriction turned his pen towards Mexicans during this period.19 Writing in the Post he stated “The brown flood of Mexican peon immigration – the immigration of Mexican Indians and Mexican Mestizos, or half breeds – has risen from year to year.”20 Roberts reporting from California reported that “In Los Angeles…one can see the endless streets crowded with the shacks of illiterate, diseased, pauperized Mexicans . . . bringing countless numbers of American citizens into the world with the reckless prodigality of rabbits…”21
These actions and conditions had a snowball effect and by 1931 – when the local school board had initiated their actions – a national policy of repatriation was in place.22 President Hoover believed that Mexican aliens contributed to the problem of unemployment by taking jobs from native-born Euro-Americans. He made every effort to not only stop both legal and illegal immigrants but to expel them as well. In 1931 the Secretary of Labor, proposed a solution to the unemployment problem. Announcing that there were four hundred thousand illegal aliens in the United States. He stated that “…under provisions of the immigration laws one hundred thousand of these illegal aliens could be deported.”23
In addition to the press, the growing prejudice against Mexican nationals was also mirrored in state reports. In 1930, the Governor of California received a report that he had commissioned entitled “Mexicans in California.” The report considers all people of Mexican descent as Mexican nationals and does not differentiate between Mexicans born in Mexico, or U.S. citizens of Mexican descent.24 Divided into four major parts the report provides detailed statistics, future predictions and alarming rates of growth of the Mexican population in the United States.
Focusing on Southern California, the authors report that between 1910-1920 the increase in Mexicans for the state at large was 159% and for twelve Southern California cities, the increase was 215%. The increase for the decade in San Diego was 124%. The report supported the restrictionist’s stereotyped views of the docile, unassimilable Mexican who has no desire to become a permanent U.S. citizen.25
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 of January 26,1931, stated, “Aliens who are deportable will save themselves trouble and expense by arranging their departure at once.” The Examiner announced that “Deportable aliens include Mexicans, Japanese and others without any qualifying details.”26 During the following year city and county law enforcement officials made public raids arresting Mexicans. One such raid included the Los Angeles city park. The overall result in the United States was the deportation and voluntary repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and U.S. citizens of Mexican descent.
The economic problems of the Depression created a great schism between those in favor of restricting Mexican immigration particularly in the Southwestern United States, and acti-restrictionists fighting for Mexican and other immigrant rights. Economic insecurity coupled with public attitudes led to the legalized expulsion of Mexicans from the country and targeted people of Mexican descent – regardless of nationality – as the scapegoats in the Southwest. The climate was not as blatant in San Diego County, but it would be difficult to believe that the national sentiment expressed in both dominant newspapers and magazines of the time, and stressed by state and federal leaders did not go unnoticed in San Diego and Lemon Grove.
The nativist and restrictionist attitude fanned by economic troubles of the depression and the precedent of segregation in the form of the Americanization schools gave the board license to segregate the children. The segregation of Mexican-American children became widespread in California and Texas. In 1928, the enrollment of sixty-four schools in eight California counties was 90 to 100% Mexican-American.27 During the 1920s segregation was institutionalized in Texas. Texas school boards created Mexican-American section neighborhood schools which then became Mexican-American schools. Between 1922-1923 and 1931-1932, the number of such schools doubled from twenty to forty in Texas.28
…No Southwestern state upheld legally the segregation of Mexican American children, yet the practice was widespread. Separate schools were built and maintained, in theory, simply because of residential segregation or to benefit the Mexican child. He had a “language handicap” and needed to be “Americanized” before mixing with Anglo children. His presence in an integrated school would hinder the progress of white American children.29
Such schools had been built without much opposition in California but the Lemon Grove board was not prepared for the ensuing contest which reached the Superior Court of the State of California in San Diego in the following month.
On the 8th of January, 1931, the San Diego Evening Tribune published an article, “75 Mexican students go on strike.” It discussed the action taken by Principal Green sending the children to the new Americanization school and the response of the community charging the school board with segregation. The following day the San Diego Sun published a response. “Pupils back at Desks in Lemon Grove,” by the supervisor of attendance, L.H. Lovelace, stating the “…matter was amicably settled as far as the school authorities are concerned.” According to the article, Miss Ada York, superintendent of County schools stated that the seventy-five pupils would return to the Americanization school…and H.L. Owens, school board member, said “…the difficulties between authorities and Mexican children had been ‘entirely ironed out’.”30
Although the school authorities felt the school separation had been settled, during the following month the community went to court and under a writ of mandate from the Superior Court of California in San Diego, they challenged the school board’s right to build and maintain a separate and segregated school for Mexican American children. Prior to the school separation, Mexican children had attended special English classes at the school but the building of a separate school and the segregation was viewed as a threat to the community.
The Mexican parents organized themselves into the Comite de Vecinos de Lemon Grove (The Lemon Grove Neighbors Committee) and sought help in the Mexican community at large.31 The community went first to Enrique Ferreira who had been the Mexican consul in San Diego for ten years. Ferreira responded with strong support and arranged for San Diego attorneys, Fred C. Noon and A.C. Brinkely, to act as legal counsel for the Lemon Grove Community. Fred C. Noon spoke Spanish fluently and worked in San Diego since 1928. In 1930, he had been named California attorney for the Northern District of Baja California and was considered an expert in legal affairs concerning border relations.32 As a result of Counsel Ferreirs support, and the conviction of the community, a suit was filed against the Lemon Grove School Board. The community chose my father, Roberto Alvarez, as representative of the segregated children. He was chosen because he was an exemplary student and spoke English well.33
In addition to seeking help from Consul Ferreira, the Lemon Grove parents appealed to the Mexican Community at large. The parents sought help in the Spanish language media and reports in both Los Angeles and Tijuana newspapers appeared. On January 25, 1931 La Opinion the leading Spanish language newspaper in the state featured a page one article on the Lemon Grove incident entitled: “No admiten a los Ninos Mexicanos” (Mexican children refused admission). Within the article an open letter from the Lemon Grove Neighbors Committee appealed for the rights of all Mexicans in the United States. “We are not in agreement, which is very natural, nor do we consider just, the separation of our children, without any reason, to send them to another establishment that distinguishes Mexican Children from children of other nationalities…” The community made a plea for both moral and material support in order to do “the work necessary to convince the school authorities that they should not continue the segregation…”34 As a result of this request and support from La Opinion, the Lemon Grove Committee was able to cover the costs incurred by the court case.35
As the case approached the hearing, school board members appealed to nationalistic sentiment in support of their attempt to separate the children. H. A. Anderson, president of the school board responding to the article in La Opinion stated that “The strike is being carried on by an intense Mexican national organization which is organized among the Spanish-American elements along the coast.”36 The school board was quoted as welcoming the test suit to determine the county board’s powers to build the separate school for Mexican children. The district attorney’s office had already ruled in favor of the board and had chosen to defend the school board’s actions as the legal defense for the school.37
The local attempt at segregation was also supported at the state level. On January 19, 1931, California Assemblyman George R. Bliss of Carpinteria introduced a bill to the California legislature that would have legalized the segregation of Mexican and Mexican American students. Bliss, as a school board member, had been successful in establishing a segregated school for Mexicans in Carpinteria under the rubric of an “Indian School”. California School Code of the period provided: “The power to establish separate school for Indian children and children of Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian ancestry.”38 Bliss wanted to extend the clause on Indian children to read “Indian children whether born in the United States or not” thus allowing schools to separate Mexican and Mexican American children on the basis that they were Indians.”39 The Bliss Bill was defeated, but interestingly Balderrama attributes the introduction of the Bill to the Lemon Grove controversy. Lillian Hill, Chief of the Division of Migratory Schools in California states in 1931 that a Lemon Grove supporter of school segregation had announced: “If this (the attempt to segregate Lemon Grove) fails, we will slip a bill through the state legislature so we can segregate these greasers.”40
The Mexican community, however, was not deterred and on the 13th day of February issued a writ of mandate to the school board through the Superior Court of California in San Diego, to reinstate the Mexican American students. The petition stated that “the exclusion was clearly an at-tempt at racial segregation…by separating and segregating all the children of Mexican parentage…from the children of American, European and Japanese parentage.”41 The community stated that the board had “…no legal right or power to exclude…(the Mexican children) from receiving instruction upon an equal basis…” The Mexican parents clarified that 95 percent of the students were American born citizens “entitled to all the rights and privileges common to all citizens of the United States”.42
In addition, the community showed their concern for residents and citizens of Mexican parentage throughout Southern California: “…a speedy determination of the matter is necessary to prevent serious embarrassment and to determine the legal right under the laws of California, of children of Mexican parentage, nationality and or descent to attend the public schools of California on a basis of equality with other Americans.”43
Based on this petition (Writ of Mandate) the court indicted each of the school board members for illegal segregation and commanded the admittance of all pupils of Mexican parentage and nationality to the main school.
In their answer to the Petition for Writ of Mandate the Board of Trustees denied all allegations concerning segregation or isolation of the pupils of Mexican parentage. The school board’s action was rationalized under the pretentions for the betterment of the Mexican children’s education. The new school was to be an “Americanization school” in which the deficiencies of the children of Mexican descent could be corrected, avoiding the deterioration of American students as a result of contact with the Mexicans in the main school. English and American customs would be provided to bring the Mexican students up to standards of the American children. The primary arguments submitted to the court were:
(1) That the new school house was large enough to accommodate 85 or more pupils and that a playground was set aside and fully equipped.
(2) That the school was built in the northerly section of town (in the main Mexican area) for the safety of the children as they could attend the school without traveling over the main boulevard to the main school.
(3) That with one or two exceptions the children assigned to this new school are deficient in their knowledge of the English language, and are older than the other children in corresponding grades and require special attention from the instructors.
(4) That the new school was built for the purpose of establishing an Americanization school wherein backward and deficient children could be given better instruction than they could be given in the larger school.
(5) That the Americanization school was not intended to be a segregation of Mexican children.44
On Tuesday the 24th of February, the case went to court and was heard by San Diego’s Judge Claude Chambers. Judge Chambers was well known in San Diego. He arrived in 1906 and served as a city justice and in the late thirties ran for City Councilman and Mayor of San Diego. Although he lost both bids, Judge Chambers had filed an impressive record in the courts of San Diego. He was a civic leader establishing the San Diego Tourist Magazine in 1908 and in 1913 was cofounder of the San Diego Advertising Club. He served as president of the San Diego Merchant’s Association and formed the San Diego Hotel Association. In 1934 he expressed his views as a Judge. His campaign slogan was “Justice tempered with Mercy.” “I believe a court should uphold the dignity of the law and respect the rights of all equally, irrespective of whether they be rich or poor, and irrespective of what race, nationality or religion they may belong to…”45 These beliefs were carried into court.
The court case focused around a rebuttal of the school board’s claims concerning the backwardness and deficiencies of the Mexican American children. In addition to the plaintiff representing the children at large, ten principal witnesses took the stand to illustrate the inaccurate generalizations concerning the scholastic achievements of the Mexican children. But the major questions were levied at the school board and school staff.
Judge Chambers: When there are American children who are behind (in grade level), what do you do with them?
Answer: They are kept in a lower grade.
Judge: You don’t segregate them? Why not do the same with the other
Wouldn’t the association of American and Mexican children be favorable to the learning of English for these (Mexican) children?
Silence is the answer.
Lawyer Noon: All the Mexican children were behind (in their work)?
Answer: Many of them from the Lemon Grove School counsel.
Noon: How did they behave in school?
Answer: The older ones behaved themselves; the younger ones gave us a lot
Noon: What was the reason for separating them?
Answer: To provide them with more personal attention.49
In concluding Judge Chambers stated:
“I understand that you can separate a few children, to improve their education they need special instruction; but to separate all the Mexicans in one group can only be done by infringing the laws of the State of California. And I do not blame the Mexican children because a few of them are behind (in school work) for this segregation. On the contrary, this is a fact in their favor. I believe that this separation denies the Mexican children the presence of the American children, which is so necessary to learn the English language.”47
On March 30, 1931 a judgement was passed in favor of the Mexican community.48 The conclusion of law refuted each claim made by the school board and the court demanded an immediate reinstatement of the children. The separation was indeed deemed a segregation and the court ruled that the school board had no legal basis on which to segregate the children. California law did not authorize or permit the maintenance of separate schools for the instruction of pupils of Mexican parentage, nationality and or descent. The children were legally entitled to enter the regular school building and receive instruction on the basis of equality with all other children.
In a final reference to the school separation and the only reference to the court case, the minutes of a post case school board meeting read: “All members of the board present. On account of having lost the court decision there was some discussion about the return of Mexican (children) pupils but only a spirit of good will prevailed, and it was decided that everything was to continue exactly as it did prior to January 5th”49 The case was never recorded in school board minutes and even a local history of the Lemon Grove School from 1880 to 1966 by a former school superintendent failed to mention the case.50
The Lemon Grove case may appear to be an isolated event of the 1930s, but the segregation of Mexican and Mexican American children became commonplace throughout the southwest during this time. In some cases it reappeared and was fought as defacto segregation in our major cities as late as the 1970s.51
Prior to the Lemon Grove case, The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) selected the Del Rio Texas school district as a test case to outlaw similar segregation policy. The case-Salvatierra vs. Independent School District challenged the legality of the “complete segregation” of school children of Mexican and Spanish descent…” The District court of Val Verde County granted an injunction restraining the district from segregating Mexican children, but the injunction was appealed by the school board. In early 1930 the Texas Court of Appeals agreed in part with the district court on the school’s lack of power to arbitrarily segregate Mexican children but the court upheld the school district’s rights to separate children on the basis of English language handicaps. LULAC appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the case was dismissed for want of jurisdiction.52
The Lemon Grove school case was isolated as a local event and had no precedent-setting ruling affecting either the State of California or other situations of school segregation in the Southwest. Unlike the Texas case, the school board did not appeal the district court’s decision and complied with the court’s ruling. Given the climate of the period, it is surprising that the case was not appealed. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that other communities in the state did not use the case as a precedent in desegregating Americanization schools and classes that were created for Mexican and Mexican-American children. The case stands as a credit to the Mexican community of Lemon Grove who as immigrants used the public system of justice to test their children’s rights as U.S. citizens.
1. The Brown Case was the culmination of a long series of tested court actions toward Black equality in the United States that began with Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. This case, related directly to railroad car travel and only indirectly to schooling, set a precedent for setting the “separate but equal” or Jim Crow laws that remained until the 1954 Brown ruling. A series of cases directly related to equal education were heard throughout the States after the turn of the century. In 1927 the Supreme Court approved of Mississippi’s sending a Chinese child to a school maintained for Blacks. See Daniel M. Berman, It Is So Ordered: The Supreme Court Rules on School Segregation (New York: W.W. North and Company, 1966); Carlos Manuel Haro, Mexicano/Chicano Concerns and School Desegregation in Los Angeles (Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Center Publications, University of California, 1977); Hubert H. Humphrey, ed., School Desegregation: Documents and Commentaries (New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell Co., 1964); Select Committee on Equal Educational Opportunity, United States Senate, “1972 Selected Court Decisions Relating to Equal Educational Opportunity” (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office) and D. Shoemaker, With All Deliberate Speed: Segregation-Desegregation in Southern Schools (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1957).
In the 1930s a variety of cases concerning the rights of Blacks to attend state colleges were heard throughout the nation including Maryland (1936), Missouri (1938), Oklahoma 1948 and Texas (1948) (Haro 1977). In 1954 there were 17 U.S. States all in the South or bordering the South, plus the District of Columbia which by law made segregated school mandatory. Four states (Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico and Wyoming) allowed varieties of local option in segregating and sixteen states prohibited segregation but enforcement was random. The eleven remaining states had no laws on segregation aimed at Blacks or Chicanos and most had no reported cases in the courts (Ibid). California however, did by law exclude Native Americans making it legal to segregate people of Indian descent.
2. Robert R. Alvarez, Jr., “School Segregation in the 1930s: A Mexican American Case,” Paper presented to the 82nd American Anthropological Association in Los Angeles; Francisco E. Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza: The Los Angeles Mexican Consulate and the Mexican Community, 1929 to 1936 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1982); Meyer Weinberg, A Chance to Learn (Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1977).
3. I discovered this case while doing field research on the migration and adaptation of Mexican families from Baja California. My own family had come from the South and in interviews with my father and other key actors in the case discovered that court action had been taken by the Mexican community. A grant from the Spencer Foundation for educational research permitted the actual focus on the case. I am also in great debt to my sister, Guadalupe Alvarez Cooper who conducted interviews and discovered the aging microfilm containing the court records.
4. Other versions of this paper that relate the school case to immigration reform have been presented elsewhere, see Robert Alvarez, Jr., “Public Sentiment and Public Policy Towards Immigration Reform: A Lesson From a 1930 Mexican Desegregation Case,” Paper presented at the symposium: Mexican Migration and the U.S. Border Region: Anthropological Perspectives. Society for Applied Anthropology, San Diego, 1983, and Alvarez, “School Segregation in the 1930s.” The case presented here is the basis for a Public Broadcasting documentary produced by KPBS-TV San Diego. This documentary is the second in a series on the San Diego Lemon Grove families from Baja California. The first “The Trail North” was broadcast in 1983.
5. La Mesa Scout, 1926. This copy was obtained from the Lemon Grove Historical Society. No month or day was given.
6. The settlement and development of this community is described in Robert Alvarez, “Familia: Migration and Adaptation in Alta and Baja California 1800-1975,” Ph.D. Thesis, Stanford University, 1979.
8. Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Diego, Petition for Writ of Mandate No. 66625, February 13, 1931. This is the only official record of the court case that is in existence. A prolonged search in both city and county records led to the discovery of the school case in the microfilm collection of the Superior Court. The microfilm had deteriorated badly, but was still legible.
9. Interviews with Roberto Alvarez, Sr. and Mary Smith Alvarez, February 1981, San Diego, California.
10. San Diego Sun, February 10-11, 1931.
11. Lemon Grove School Board Minutes, July 23, 1930. Copies of the board minutes had been saved by my grandmother Ramona Castellanos, along with old San Diego County newspaper accounts of the case. These proved to be the primary documents that led to the investigation and understanding presented here.
13. In addition to their current fear of immigration Ricardo Romo states that “…During the period 1915-1917 hysteria similar to, and at times even more extreme than that aimed at communists elsewhere was directed at Mexicans living in the United States who allegedly stood on the verge of revolution which would reclaim the entire Southwest for Mexico. Ricardo Romo, “Mexican Workers in the City: Los Angeles 1915-1930,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Los Angeles, 1975, pp. 104-132.
14. Abraham Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans in the Great Depression (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1974), p. 12.
15. See Alvarez, “Familia;” Gilberto Cardenas, “United States Immigration Policy Toward Mexico: An Historical Perspective,” Chicano Law Review, II (Summer, 1975); Lawrence Cardoso, “Mexican Emigration to the United States, 1900-1930: An Analysis of Socio-Economic Causes,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of Connecticut, 1970 and Manuel Garcia, The Desert Immigrants (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982).
16. Robert A. Divine, American Immigration Policy 1924-1952 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), pp. 52-76.
17. Ibid.,Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans; Romo, “Mexican Workers”; and Robin F. Scott, “The Mexican in the Los Angeles Area, 1920-1950: From Acquiescence to Activity,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southern California, 1971.
18. Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans, p. 23.
19. Divine, American Immigration Po, p. 56.
20. Romo, “Mexican Workers,” p. 74.
22. Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza; Emory Bogardus, Mexicans in the United States (Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press, 1934); Cardoso, “Mexican Emigration;” Divine, American Immigration Policy; Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans; Romo, “Mexican Workers” and Scott, “The Mexican in Los Angeles.”
23. Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans, p. 39.
24. R and E Research Associates, “Mexicans in California,” A Report to Governor Clement C. Young, 1931.
26. Hoffman, Unwanted Mexican-Americans, p. 47.
27. Meyer Weinberg states that in 1928, San Bernadino had sixteen such schools, Orange County fourteen, Los Angeles County ten, Imperial eight, Kern eight, Ventura four, Riverside two and Santa Barbara two. Meyer Weinberg, A Chance to Learn (Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1977). pp. 155-165.
Paul Taylor writing in 1927 states that in the Imperial Valley, California, Mexican children made up one-third of the population and were separated into Americanization and opportunity classes. “Segregation” he stated “occurs in every town of the Imperial Valley, California,” University of California Publications in Economics, Volume VI, No. 1, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1928), p. 83.
Thomas Carter in reviewing the 1930 situation for Mexican children states “…segregation especially in the early grades was regularly recommended and commonly established…” Thomas Carter, “Mexican Americans in School: A History of Educational Neglect” (New York: College Entrance Examination Board, 1970), p. 11.
28. Ibid., p. 155.
29. Joan Moore, The Mexican Americans (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1970), p. 77.
30. San Diego Union, January 9, 1931.
31. Alvarez, “School Segregation in the 1930s;” Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza.
32. San Diego Union, February 19, 1930 San Diego Union, November 4, 1961.
33. Roberto Alvarez interview, February, 1981.
34. La Opinion, January 25, 1931.
35. Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza, p. 60.
36. San Diego Sun, February 10, 1931 and February 11, 1931.
38. Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza, p. 61.
40. Ibid, p. 64.
41. Superior Court of the State of California, San Diego County, Writ of Mandate, February 13, 1931.
44. Alternate Writ of Mandate, February 14, 1931.
45. San Diego Union, 1934. No date given.
46. Secretaria de Relation’s Exteriores. Tomo I-II, 1930-31 pp. 1786-1787. Translation by author.
48. Conclusions of Law: March 1, 1931.
49. Lemon Grove School Board Minutes. March 12, 1931.
50. Byron L. Netzley, “A Personal History of the Lemon Grove School District,” Un-published Manuscript, Lemon Grove Historical Society, 1966.
51. Haro, Mexicano/Chicano Concerns; U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, 1971. Mexican American Education Study (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office).
52. Balderrama, In Defense of La Raza, p. 59; Weinberg, A Chanceto Learn, p. 165.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS on pages 117 and 124 are courtesy of the Lemon Grove Historical Society. The view of Lemon Grove on pages 122-123, and Lemon Grove School on page 128, are from the San Diego History Center’s Title Insurance and Trust Collection. Communion photos on pages 126-127 are courtesy Justa Smith. The portrait of Jerome Green on page 119 is courtesy of Pearl Holaday. Special thanks to KPBS Public Television.