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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Racial Stratification, Social Consciousness, and the Education of Mexican Americans in Fabens, Texas: A Socio-Historical Case Study

  • Author(s): Verdugo, Richard R., Dr.
  • et al.

In 1878, Charles Howard walked into the El Paso law office of Louis Cardis and shot him dead as Cardis was dictating a letter. Shortly thereafter Howard turned himself in to the local sheriff, and was later exonerated of all wrongdoing.

Though Howard was eventually to pay with his own life for this act of violence, the events before and after his shooting Louis Cardis highlight the extent to which racial stratification affected all social institutions in the small town of Fabens, Texas. This paper explores, at a descriptive level, one such relationship—that between racial stratification and the educational system. In our analysis we use historical materials as well as data from a 1969 community survey of Fabens’s in describing how racial stratification originated, evolved, and maintained a rigid system of inequality in the community. We then examine the “effect” racial stratification had on the educational system by describing the views parents, students, and teachers had about one another and about schooling. Our analysis shows clearly how racial stratification relegated Mexican Americans to the lower rung of society in Fabens, and negatively affected their education.

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