Border Citizens: The Making of Indians, Mexicans, and Anglos in Arizona

By Eric V. Meeks | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 6
SHADOWS IN THE SUN BELT

Phoenix Mayor Samuel Mardian Jr. testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1962 that ethnic minorities in Phoenix faced little or no discriminatory treatment. “Indians are not discriminated against in employment, services, or housing,” he said, and offered an even more sanguine assessment of Mexican-American prospects: “These people hold high positions in the city government, in industry, and in the professions.” To prove the point he noted that one Mexican American held a seat on the Phoenix City Council and that others had recently been elected to the state legislature. Only when discussing the status of the growing population of blacks did Mardian admit to a few lingering problems, noting that certain private businesses avoided hiring them and that “the purchase of homes by Negroes in areas previously all-white meets with resistance.” Still, he claimed that “Negroes have made great progress toward complete integration.”1

These advancements, Mardian concluded, resulted largely from the Anglo community's generosity and civil stewardship, which precluded any need for the federal government to intercede. He maintained that Anglos in Phoenix were imbued with “Yankee self-confidence, southern hospitality, western friendliness, and Midwestern conservatism.” It was these traits, inherited from Anglo “pioneers” and settlers from elsewhere in the United States, that defined the essence of citizenship in Arizona and that made federal intervention in civil rights unnecessary. “Minority groups,” he declared, “would accomplish more on a voluntary basis than by looking to legal remedies.”2

Shortly after Mardian's testimony, Herbert Ely, president of the Phoenix Council of Civil Unity, directly challenged his claims. Ely criticized the

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