Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

The Hispanic Struggle

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

The Hispanic Struggle

Article excerpt

Civil rights have been the beacon of our constitutional history, how we treat and respect others has been the cornerstone of American democracy, yet despite this constitutional and moral obligation, modern day anti-Hispanic rhetoric continue to define who we are and what we stand for as a nation that preaches democracy. The current political fiasco has left us as a country scrambling to address new civil rights issues and, at the same time, re-discover the Hispanic presence in America and its shaping of our history. Very few Americans understand, acknowledge and respect the contributions of one of Americas greatest ethnic groups - Hispanics. Never in our history has an ethnic group redefined America as Hispanics have done and continue to do. Yet despite this astonishing contribution to American culture, Americans are often confused as to who Hispanics really are and what they represent in America.

The Hispanic presence in America dates back prior to the founding of this great nation. Hispanic culture can be traced in the United States for over 500 years when California, Mexican states, Florida and the great Southwestern states were discovered by Spanish explorers. Many of us are unaware that Hispanic culture had firm roots in St. Augustine, Florida, and in what is now New Mexico before the English arrived at Jamestown in 1607 or before the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Massachusetts Bay in 1621. Hispanic culture and its political ideas flourished well before the Founding Fathers envisioned the idea of securing their independence from Great Britain in 1776. The present day "Browning of America" and the continuous reshaping of Americas social, cultural and economic influence have defined, and will continue to shape, our country's new civil, socio-economic, political and cultural history.

Civil rights remain the pinnacle of debates, protecting rights for all Americans, regardless of color, ethnicity, race, gender, age or sexual orientation. Defending these rights against discrimination have long been an important issue for all Americans. These rights have been tested throughout our history; without the Hispanic presence, American democracy would remain very volatile and challenging. Very few understand the profound impact of the Mexican-American War and civil rights. From its earliest beginnings, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, created a new American empire that became the foundation of a civil rights movement that demanded that the new Americans be treated with respect. The promise of that accord was to treat former colonial Mexican settlers who chose to remain in the territory as U.S. citizens with full civil rights at a time when the majority of African-Americans were in the shackles of slavery. That test of citizenship for Mexican-Americans in 1848 became the hallmark for many of America's promises and the challenge for democracy for all.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguably one of the most important legislation in our country's history, ensured that legal barriers be torn down. Theoretically, it would eliminate barriers of discrimination against all Americans in our society. Despite the importance of this legislation, very few understand the historical foundations of the modern-day civil rights movement and the Hispanic influence that later defined it. The struggle for modern-day civil rights, equality and guaranteed rights under the constitution of the United States would not have been possible without the dedication of Dr. Hector P. Garcia. His leadership on the civil rights movement in many Hispanic communities remains silent but of great importance. Garcia fought peacefully for the dismantling of segregation signs, racism and discrimination in many Mexican-American communities in the great southwestern states in the 1940s and 50s. His non-violence philosophy was an important tool in dismantling racism and segregation years before Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin L. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.