“A Golden Era”
Our theme came from a Spanish phrase that described the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. From time to time we focus on different Latino communities and experiences. This year our focus is on some of the roots and branches of Mexican heritage.
We did this because in 1946 - 1955 in the United States the vast majority of Latinos had roots in Mexico. This resulted in a shared community history and experience: many children mostly spoke English as their parents mostly spoke Spanish. Those living here had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They had made many sacrifices for this country; they felt they had earned the right to share in the prosperity that was a part of the American Dream.
The existing bias and discrimination that encouraged segregated schools and discouraged achievement by Latinos was challenged by young men and women who had served in WWII, or who had been educated and lived their lives in the U.S. It is an era of Mendez v. Westminster, Hernandez v. State of Texas, of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, of the American G.I. Forum, and locally the establishment of groups like Uni-Vets .
It is also an era in which they more fully expressed their identity and their cultural roots. Zoot suits, tap shoes, mariachi, soldier, student, Caló, folklorico, and so much more. For some they felt like pochos, a derogatory term used by Mexicanos for those who lived in the U.S. They felt as if they were neither from here nor from there. And others felt, “by my mother I am Mexican, by detiny I am American…I speak two languages, and I have two cultures. I am Mexican American”.