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THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN TEXAS WAS SEGREGATED

After the lines of Mexico and the United States were re-drawn an unpleasant after effect remained. Many of the former Mexicans who by no fault of their own became part of the United States were subjected to a variety of social acts of segregation and discrimination according to some of the ELDERS who recall their experiences shortly after the turn of the 19th Century; few escaped this new reality. The aggressive people who came and pushed families away and were quick to establish ownership created an atmosphere of fear, non-belonging and much more.

The families who resided close to the border knew no other life and if anything were more passive and not aggressive as the new comers from the eastern states and beyond. Few homesteads or ability to own land and create a future was available. Some of our Pioneros still remember the hardships. No one seemed to have a full time job and seasonal work was poorly paid; some earned less than a dollar a day. The economic plight was evident everywhere especially as water became a scarce commodity. When the water became scarce people begin to migrate far away to look for work or to anchor themselves to other communities that were more promising. Factors such as a bad economy, not being part of the local political base and the aftermath of the Revoluciones de la Frontera created a dire atmosphere for people to pursue or realize a better life.

Dr. Inez Ramirez a native Ashertonian who retired from Education asserted that things were difficult for everyone including those who had obtained a high school diploma or had even earned a college degree. Besides expectations for Tejano Students being low and people in general did not know how to buck the system. “I was discouraged from entering law school” he asserts. And thus it was by default that I became an educator. He held many important positions throughout the state of Texas and was also Superintendent of Schools in Eagle Pass, Texas. “I could see Piedras Negras, Mexico from my office” he added as he remembered the good old days in a border town. I met Dr. Inez Ramirez by accident in the early 70’s. I became a bit embarrassed when I found out that we had been neighbors in the Ed Davidson’s Camp in St. Paul Oregon. Neither of us could remember having seen each other…and we had a good laugh. We figured it was an age factor that did not help our recollection. I made this discovery when I began to describe his parents; I described them in great detail and he was surprised.

Dr. Ramirez is proud of all the achievements that he and his family have made in spite of the challenges and negatives faced in the early years. “Look at Raul-Ramirez, former Marion County Sheriff..Not too bad”… he said with a smile! I responded to him by recalling his nephew as a promising young man when he was attending Woodburn High School in Woodburn, Oregon. No doubt that Ashertonians are proud of Raul Ramirez who on occasion wears a shirt resembling the Texan Flag.

As I always do with people that I interview, we play a name game.” As I gave him a name, he would always add the nick name that belonged to that person; which was a lot of FUN! Tambien platicamos como la gente de Asherton no se molestaba cuando usaban sobre nombres. Un ejemplo seria: Si eres gordo?... don’t be too surprised si te dicen “fat.” If you walk with a limp?...no te sorprendas si te dicen “chueco.” Lo que contaba mas y era importante era la relación y la calidad de hermandad entre gente del mismo pueblo. “We were all related in one way or another” Inez adds to the discussion. Can you imagine going thru life con un sombre- nombre como “la biti.” This story will be told in full later which includes an audio capsule.

The two names that surprised me and drew the most laughter and kind words of GRACIAS.. and PRAISE were the names of Luvina Mendiola and Nieves Lopez (Pioneros de Oregon 2002 Jesus, nieta y Nieves-red top) as soon as I mentioned their names he did not even think about the response…and he replied “activists”, ”troublemakers”…the greatest compliment one can bestow on a person especially women. I had the honor of knowing these two GRANDE MUJERES..and I pause and think: “What would happen if we could have a Nieves Lopez or a Luvina Mendiola?... I think most of us can imagine the REPLY. Albert Bustamante who was one of Inez’s classmates and compadre de la calle en Cheto..agrees with this VIEW!

At a small gathering I shared part of the conversation with Lucia one of Lopez’s daughters and she also agreed. “Mom was liberal and activist” she was ahead of her time; indeed she was.

The photos that are interspersed in this passage of “Segregation and Discrimination” acknowledge and thank those who endured problems and treatments unlike no other time in history.
MIL GRACIAS POR TU SUFRIMIENTO PERSEVERANCIA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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