History of Mexican Americans in Houston
When Houston, Texas was first settled in 1836, some Mexican prisoners of war cleared and drained swampland so the city could be settled. Some parcels of land were given to 100 of the prisoners, who became servants. Throughout most of the 19th century most Mexican immigrants traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and San Antonio and did not go to East Texas cities like Houston. The Anglos (non-Hispanic, English speaking whites) in East Texas had a Deep South culture and preferred sharecroppers who were African American and Anglo. Robert R. Treviño, author of The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston, said that the Anglos "made it clear that Mexicans were not welcome." At various points between 1850 and 1880, six to eighteen Mexicans lived in Houston. Treviño said that "Mexicans were almost invisible in Houston during most of the nineteenth century."
Mexican migration into Houston increased with the expansion of the railroad system and the installation of Porfirio Díaz as the President of Mexico. Mexicans dissatisfied with Díaz used the railroads to travel to Texas. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Mexican Americans and immigrants from Mexico began to stay in Houston permanently. Many worked in unskilled labor and as food member. 500 people of Mexican origin lived in Houston by the year 1900. This increased to 2,000 by 1910. Treviño said "[...]the haphazard trickle had become a steady influx[...]" In 1907 a junta patriótica (cultural committee) opened Mexican Independence Day festivities. In 1908 at least one Mexican American mutual aid society had formed.
In the early 20th century the population further increased due to several factors. The 1910 Mexican Revolution drove many Mexicans to Houston. Employers recruited Mexican Americans and made them into enganchadores (labor agents) so they could recruit more workers; the enganchadores recruited Tejanos and immigrants. In addition many Mexican Americans in rural areas faced unemployment as commercial agriculture increased, and they traveled to Houston since Houston's economy was increasing. The labor shortage during World War I encouraged Mexicans to work in Houston. The immigration restrictions put in place in the 1920s did not affect Mexicans, so Mexicans continued to come to Houston. In 1920 Houston had 6,000 residents of Mexican origin. In 1930 about 15,000 residents were of Mexican origin. Originally Mexicans settled the Second Ward. Jesus Jesse Esparza of Houston History magazine said that the Second Ward "quickly became the unofficial hub of their cultural and social life." As time passed, Mexicans began moving to other neighborhoods, such as the First Ward, the Sixth Ward, the Northside (then a part of the Fifth Ward), and Magnolia Park. A group of about 100 Mexican families also settled the Houston Heights.
By 1930 Houston had about 15,000 Mexicans. This was almost twice as many as the 8,339 first and second generation Eastern and Southern European immigrants in Houston. Treviño said that the Mexican American community "took root in a society that had been historically black and white but one that increasingly became tri-ethnic— black, white, and brown[...]" He added that "In a city that considered them nonwhite, Mexicans stood out even though their numbers were smaller than those in such places as San Antonio and Los Angeles." Scholars of Mexican-American studies say that, in regards to Houston's Mexican-American population, the "immigrant era" ended in the 1930s. As the Great Depression affected Houston, City of Houston officials accused Mexican Americans of being economically harmful and launched raids into their communities. Many Mexican-Americans did not receive federal benefits meant to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression. Several Mexican-American organizations, such as the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the Sociedad Mutualista Obrera Mexicana, provided relief services to the community during that era.
In the book Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston, author Arnoldo De León described the relationship between Houston Mexican-Americans and newly arrived immigrants from Mexico. De León said that the traditional residents disliked how they believed that the new immigrants were giving the Mexican-American community in Houston a bad reputation but added that that, at the same time, the new immigrants kept the entire community in touch with the Mexican community.
As of 2007 most of the Hispanic and Latino political power in Houston consists of Mexican Americans.
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In 1910 there were no Mexican Catholic churches in Houston. Some Mexicans were excluded from attending Anglo Catholic churches. Mexicans who did attend found themselves discriminated against. In 1911 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston brought the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a series of priests intended to minister to the Mexican population of Houston. In 1912 Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, the first Mexican Catholic church, opened. Due to an increase in demand in Catholic services, oblates established missions in various Mexican-American neighborhoods. The Roman Catholic church established Our Lady of Guadalupe so that White people accustomed to segregation of races did not find offense with the presence of Mexican people in their churches. The second Mexican Catholic church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, opened in the 1920s. It originated as an oblate mission in Magnolia Park, on the second floor of the residence of Emilio Aranda. A permanent two-story building, funded by the community, opened in 1926.
In 1972 the church leaders and lay Hispanics in Houston participated in the Encuentro Hispano de Pastoral ("Pastoral Congress for the Spanish-speaking"). Robert R. Treviño, author of The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston, said that the event "stands as a watershed in the religious history of Mexican American Catholics in Houston". Treviño also said that Mexican-American Catholics "competed for cultural space not only with the Anglo majority, which included various groups of white Catholics, but also with a large black population and a Mexican protestant presence as well."
- Natalie Renee Lerma
- Mario Gallegos, Jr.
- Refugio Gómez
- Ninfa Laurenzo (Maria Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo)
- Rick Noriega
- Ben Reyes
- South Park Mexican (Carlos Coy)
- Felix Tijerina
- Gracie Saenz
- Olga Soliz
- Betti Maldonado
- Roman Martinez[disambiguation needed]
- Carol Alvarado
- Sonny Flores
- Laura Murillo
- Jennifer Reyna
- Demographics of Houston
- History of the Vietnamese-Americans in Houston
- History of the Mexican-Americans in Texas
- Hispanic and Latino Americans in Texas
- Tex-Mex cuisine in Houston
- Magnolia Park, Houston
- Treviño, p. 15.
- Treviño, p. 26.
- Treviño, p. 32.
- Treviño, p. 28.
- Esparza, p. 2.
- Garza, Natalie, p. 15.
- Treviño, p. 29.
- Walsh, Robb. "The Authenticity Myth." Houston Press. October 26, 2000. Retrieved on November 16, 2009.
- Garza, Cynthia Leonor. "Latinos' political power hasn't matched growth." Houston Chronicle. Sunday August 19, 2007. 2. Retrieved on November 22, 2011.
- Moreno, Jenalia. "Monterrey residents finding an escape in Houston." Houston Chronicle. September 18, 2010. Retrieved on September 20, 2010.
- Esparza, p. 3.
- Treviño, p. 9.
- Garza, Natalie, p. 17.
- Treviño, p. 10.
- "INFORMACIÓN SOBRE EL CONSULADO." Consulate-General of Mexico. Retrieved on July 27, 2009. "Dirección: 4507 San Jacinto St. Houston, Texas, 77004"
- Esparza, Jesus Jesse. "La Colonia Mexicana: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston." (Archive) Houston History Volume 9, Issue 1. p. 2-8. Center for Public History, University of Houston.
- Garza, Natalie. "The “Mother Church” of Mexican Catholicism in Houston." (Archive) Houston History Volume 9, Issue 1. p. 14-19. Center for Public History, University of Houston.
- Treviño, Robert R. The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston. UNC Press Books, February 27, 2006. 15. Retrieved from Google Books on November 22, 2011. ISBN 0-8078-5667-3, ISBN 978-0-8078-5667-3.
- (Spanish) Struthers, Silvia. "La Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe celebra 100 años." La Voz de Houston. August 17, 2012.