World War II and Mexican American Civil Rights

By Richard Griswold Del Castilo | Go to book overview
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APPENDIX E
“Latin-American Juvenile Delinquency in Los Angeles: Bomb or Bubble!”

MANUEL RUIZ

In Los Angeles during World War II, Manuel Ruiz Jr., a young lawyer, was president of the Coordinating Council for Latin-American Youth, an organization dedicated to fighting discrimination against Mexican American youth as well as proposing solutions to problems arising from segregation, poverty, and prejudice. Ruiz spoke out against derogatory stereotyping of Mexican American teenagers as “pachucos” and defended the twenty-two young Mexican Americans who were caught up in the sensational Sleepy Lagoon case in 1942 (see Chapter 3 in this book).

This article, published in December 1942, six months before the outbreak of the Zoot-Suit Riots, seems prophetic in predicting trouble if changes were not made.1 Among the recommendations Ruiz makes are the employment of Spanishspeaking police, teachers, and public officials; creating more job-training programs; easing restrictions on employment of foreign nationals; and educating the Anglo population about the war contributions of Mexican Americans. These suggestions went unheeded and later became part of the agenda of activists during the Chicano movement in the 1960s.

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