History of Mexican Americans

Mexican American history, or the history of American residents of Mexican descent, largely begins after the annexation of Northern Mexico in 1848, when the nearly 80,000 Mexican citizens of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico became U.S. citizens.[1][2] Large-scale migration increased the U.S.’ Mexican population during the 1910s, as refugees fled the economic devastation and violence of Mexico’s high-casualty revolution and civil war.[3][4] Until the mid-20th century, most Mexican Americans lived within a few hundred miles of the border, although some resettled along rail lines from the Southwest into the Midwest.[5]

Left-right from top: Lithographic depiction of Mexicans from the Mexican American War, 1887 picture of the initial boundary marking the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas Rangers during the 1910-1920 La Matanza, 1877 lynching of two Mexican-American men in California, the Mexican Repatriation, civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, the Great American Boycott, second Mexican American to run for President Julian Castro

In the second half of the 20th century, Mexican Americans diffused throughout the U.S., especially into the Midwest and Southeast,[6][7] though the groups’ largest population centers remain in California and Texas.[8] During this period, Mexican-Americans campaigned for voting rights, educational and employment equity, ethnic equality, and economic and social advancement.[9] At the same time, however, many Mexican-Americans struggled with defining and maintaining their community's identity.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Chicano student organizations developed ideologies of Chicano nationalism, highlighting American discrimination against Mexican Americans and emphasizing the overarching failures of a culturally pluralistic society.[10] Calling themselves La Raza, Chicano activists sought to affirm Mexican Americans' racial distinctiveness and working-class status, create a pro-barrio movement, and assert that "brown is beautiful."[10] Urging against both ethnic assimilation and the mistreatment of low-wage workers, the Chicano Movement was the first large-scale mobilization of Mexican American activism in United States history.[11]


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