George I. Sánchez
George Isidore Sánchez (1906–1972) was a pioneer in American educational scholarship and civil rights activism, originally from the state of New Mexico. He served on the faculty of the University of New Mexico, held several concurrent teaching, chair, and dean positions at The University of Texas at Austin, where he had earned his Masters of Educational Psychology and Spanish, from 1940 until his death.
Sanchez also acted as the President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), while spearheading several landmark civil right aimed court cases focusing on gaining equal public education rights for African, Native, and Chicano Americans and all the time maintaining an "open-door" policy at both his home on Scenic Drive and in his office at the UT Austin Education building now named in his honor.
Sanchez is remembered as a leading figure in the early "Mexican-American/Chicano" movement, which culminated during World War II, after heavy involvement with and collaboration between Chicano-Americans and Latin Americans through The Office of Inter-American Affairs. He received his Ed.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in Educational Administration, 1934 as a Fellow of the General Education Board.
George Isidoro Sánchez y Sanchez was born on October 4, 1906 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During his early years, his family moved between Albuquerque and Arizona, following his father's occupation as a miner of both copper and gold. The longest settled period of time George enjoyed as a child happened to be in Jerome, Arizona, now a ghost town, but at the time was known as W.C. Clark's copper mining boom town, with shipments moving hourly towards Clark County in Las Vegas Nevada. His early experiences in a notorious mining company owned town, full of constant human suffering at the hands of a single industrial capitalist may have helped shape his gift for public service in the name of the human race.
Sánchez published his best known work, Forgotten People, in 1940. This book was the first to use sociological methods to document the concerns and experiences of "New Mexicans." Sánchez criticized the inclination to romanticize New Mexico and its people while at the same time ignoring the grinding poverty in the state. He also challenged the U.S. government to address the basic needs of the people, who he said had always been loyal to the nation.
The Texas Years
Sánchez gained his greatest accolades after 1940. In that year, he accepted a position as a full professor at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. He was the university's first professor Latin American Studies and later served as the chair of the Department of History and Philosophy.
Death and legacy
Dr. Sanchez died on April 5, 1972. Among many honors in his memory, the National Education Association sponsored the George I. Sánchez Memorial Award to recognize him as the "father of the movement for quality education for Mexican-Americans"; the United States Office of Education named a work section and a room in the new United States Office of Education Building for him; schools in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, Texas, were named for him; and in 1995 the University of Texas rededicated its Education Building as the George I. Sánchez Building.
Sanchez was a specialist in mental measurements and bilingual education and a critic of culture bias in the intelligence tests of the day. He has been called the founder of Chicano educational psychology, and is still given much credit in regards to his methodical studies on bilingual education, which are still a basis of study in the current field.
- Carlos Kevin Blanton, George I. Sánchez: The Long Fight for Mexican American Integration. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014.