Documentary traces Tejano struggle for civil rights

By Mark Hendricks
University News Service
May 11, 2007

A documentary film that traces the struggle for civil rights of Texas Mexican Americans will be screened at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Texas Spirit Theater in the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

Mexican American Legislative Caucus: The Texas Struggle for Equality and Opportunity is a documentary film that traces the story of Tejanos and their efforts to secure their civil rights and expand their social and economic opportunities through the legislative process.

The documentary opens with an overview of the role Texas Mexicans played in the independence and political organization of early Texas and explains how, as a group, Tejanos were gradually excluded from political power by the early 20th Century.

The film then turns its attention to the Civil Rights Movement, during which Mexican American organizations in Texas led the fight for greater inclusion, overcoming barriers to full citizenship, such as the poll tax, segregated schools, and discriminatory labor and police practices.

Through interviews with a number of retired and present-day Tejano legislators, the story of the Caucus and its increasing influence in state affairs unfolds from its founding in the early 1970s to the present.

The documentary is a product of a Texas State University-San Marcos team: Jaime Chahin, Dean of the College of Applied Arts; Frank de la Teja, Chair of History and State Historian of Texas; Jaime Armin Mejía, professor of English; Magda Hinojosa, narrator and professor of Political Science; and History graduate student Roque Planas; supported by technical director Robert Currie.