Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

By George J. Sánchez | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

The "New Nationalism,"
Mexican Style

Nineteen twenty-one marked the one hundredth anniversary of the consummation of Mexico's independence from Spain, and Mexicans in Los Angeles were planning their largest patriotic celebration ever to mark the milestone. Organized by the newly formed Mexican Committee of Patriotic Festivities, the month-long program included a parade of citizens of Mexican states, a beauty contest, Mexican music concerts and film exhibits, and a public ceremony culminating in the traditional grito, or "yell," for independence on the 16th of September. This was the first year that the Mexican independence day activities were directly sponsored by the Mexican consulate office, working largely through an honorary commission of important members of the expatriate community. Each year for the next decade these events would grow in size and importance, as money for such expensive celebrations was obtained from the consulate office and raised from the immigrant communities themselves. 1

Yet lurking behind the supposed unity of the Mexican community at these events lay tension and distrust. Another organization, the "Sociedad Hispano Americana," had sponsored their own Mexican independence celebrations for many years previous to 1921 and refused to step aside when the new Committee of Patriotic Festivities was organized by the Mexican consulate. This other organization, also known as the Alianza Hispano Americana, was made up of individuals Mexican in origin but American in nationality and was roundly criticized in the Spanish‐ language press for their position. This one-day celebration was held in Selig Zoo Park, and included a bloodless bullfight, dancing, and oratories in both English and Spanish. Presided over by the consul of Cuba and Panama, the day's activities also included presentations by Professor Miguel Laris, Attorney Anthony Orfila, and Elena de la Llata, president of the Mexican Blue Cross, or Cruz Azul. 2

The editor of El Heraldo de México called upon the renegade organization to give way to the newly formed committee since it was "genu

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