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The History of Mexican Americans in Austin

Note: link goes to online .pdf of the newspaper; scroll to page 12 for Prof. Orozco's essay. 


Researcher Earl Connell reported that “Mexican men, women, and children follow the city wagons to the dump to pick out the old rags, cans of spoiled food, partly rotten apples and other fruits, old boxes, and old cakes. That which is not eaten on the spot is carried to their houses, along with the worst kind of filth.” His report expressed racism typical of what whites considered “the Mexican problem”. In 1928 many people of Mexican descent were now living in what is today downtown Austin. A white-dominated city council devised a master plan marginalizing the Mexican community to East Austin. The Catholic Diocese even moved Nuestra Senora Catholic Church to 9th Street.


The 1940s saw the growth of a Mexican American community in South Austin. By then Austin’s population was 87,930. In 1939 San Jose church was organized to serve 126 families in that area. Some South Austin whites did not welcome Mexican American neighbors. Signs were posted in yards: “Go home, Mexicans.” This occurred while Henry S. Terrazas fought for his country in World War II and with Daniel Ortega who was killed in action in France while carrying a wounded soldier to safety.


Mexican American women organized politically in conjunction and independently from men. Throughout the 70s, Martha P. Cotera represented the feminist inclinations of a sector of Austin women. In 1974 women formed the Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Association reflecting the development of a female middle class as well as the development of Chicana feminists.

Read entire article at La Voz