Texas woman discovers she’s white after 70 years

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, Texas, United States, Videos on 2015-06-24 01:49Z by Steven

Texas woman discovers she’s white after 70 years

Houston, Texas

Marvin Hurst, Reporter
KENS 5 TV, San Antonio, Texas

Byrd with her adoptive family. (Photo: (Photo: Family Photograph))

The mere mention of Rachel Dolezal’s name sets Verda Byrd off like a stick of dynamite. “She lied about her race,” Byrd said. “I didn’t lie about my race because I didn’t know.”

Dolezal’s much publicized choice to identify herself as black has been under scrutiny. The former NAACP President in Spokane, Wash. is accused of deceiving the public by insisting she was not only of black descent but black herself.

Byrd considers herself African-American. Her preference in race comes through an incredible set of circumstances. She was born to Earl and Daisy Beagle in September 1942. They named her Jeanette. She describes her parents as white transients.

Earl walked out on his family. At the time, Daisy had five children to take care of. The struggling mother had to get a job to feed her kids and keep a roof over their heads. The woman fell 30 feet to the ground in a trolley accident. The state of Missouri took her children because she was in no shape to care for them…

Read the entire article here. Watch the story here.

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Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Texas, United States, Women on 2013-09-15 20:08Z by Steven

Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History

University of Texas Press
456 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4
142 illustrations, 3 tables
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-292-70527

Teresa Palomo Acosta

Ruthe Winegarten (1929-2004)


  • 2004 T.R. Fehrenbach Award; Texas Historical Commission
  • Texas Reference Source Award; Reference Round Table, Texas Library Association

This groundbreaking book is at once a general history and a celebration of Tejanas’ contributions to Texas over three centuries

Since the early 1700s, women of Spanish/Mexican origin or descent have played a central, if often unacknowledged, role in Texas history. Tejanas have been community builders, political and religious leaders, founders of organizations, committed trade unionists, innovative educators, astute businesswomen, experienced professionals, and highly original artists. Giving their achievements the recognition they have long deserved, this groundbreaking book is at once a general history and a celebration of Tejanas’ contributions to Texas over three centuries.

The authors have gathered and distilled a wide range of information to create this important resource. They offer one of the first detailed accounts of Tejanas’ lives in the colonial period and from the Republic of Texas up to 1900. Drawing on the fuller documentation that exists for the twentieth century, they also examine many aspects of the modern Tejana experience, including Tejanas’ contributions to education, business and the professions, faith and community, politics, and the arts. A large selection of photographs, a historical timeline, and profiles of fifty notable Tejanas complete the volume and assure its usefulness for a broad general audience, as well as for educators and historians.


  • Foreword by Cynthia E. Orozco
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Native Women, Mestizas, and Colonists
  • Chapter 2: The Status of Women in the Colonial Period
  • Chapter 3: From the Republic of Texas to 1900
  • Chapter 4: Revolution, Racism, and Resistance: 1900-1940
  • Chapter 5: Life in Rural Texas: 1900-1940
  • Chapter 6: Life in Urban Texas: 1900-1940
  • Chapter 7: Education: Learning, Teaching, Leading
  • Chapter 8: Entering Business and the Professions
  • Chapter 9: Faith and Community
  • Chapter 10: Politics, the Chicano Movement, and Tejana Feminism
  • Chapter 11: Winning and Holding Public Office
  • Chapter 12: Arts and Culture Epilogue: Grinding Corn Fifty Notable Tejanas
  • Time Line
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Blacks in Colonial Spanish Texas

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2013-05-26 23:05Z by Steven

Blacks in Colonial Spanish Texas

Texas State Historical Association: A Digital Gateway to Texas History

Jesús F. de la Teja, Jerome H. and Catherine E. Supple Professor of Southwestern Studies and Regents’ Professor of History
Texas State University, San Marcos

From the initial encounters between the Old and New Worlds following Christopher Columbus’s voyages of exploration, African-descent people have been part of the story of the Americas. The African diaspora, although overwhelmingly a forced emigration carried out as part of the international slave trade, contributed to the creation of the complex multi-racial societies of Hispanic America. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved sub-Saharan Africans were sold into slavery in Spanish and Portuguese America between approximately 1550 and 1821. Hispanic legal and religious traditions allowed for considerable numbers of Africans to achieve manumission through gift or purchase, marry people of other ethnicities, produce free offspring, and in the Spanish world constitute one element of what came to be called the castas (racial/ethnic groupings). By the time of Spanish settlement in Texas in the early eighteenth century, the black Mexican population was composed overwhelming of free people of color, mostly identified as mulatto, combining European and American Indian elements…

…The complex characteristics of race and ethnicity in the broader Spanish empire were reflected in Texas’s Hispanic society. Miscegenation was widespread, and members of subordinate groups strove to “whiten” as they climbed the social ladder. In the socio-racial hierarchy of the Spanish colonial world, Spaniards stood at the top, followed by the various castas, with Indians and Africans at the bottom. Lighter skin brought with it the possibility of “passing” either for oneself or for one’s children. An analysis of extant sacramental records from San Antonio indicates that casta labels were often applied in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner. Additionally, military service tended to mask the actual phenotypical background of soldiers who were consistently listed as “Spaniard” during their active service, but whose casta might then devolve to that of a color quebrado (broken color) upon retirement. Consequently, census figures, which are available for the last decades of the colonial period, offer only an approximation of the size of the Afro-Mexican portion of the Texas population. In 1792 for instance, the civil (excluding military personnel) census summary for the province listed 415 mulattoes and 40 blacks in a reported casta population of 2,961. It also listed a total of 367 individuals in an “other” category, which reflects the ethnic ambiguity of many mixed-blood members of Hispanic Texas society. Similarly at Laredo, which was not a Texas jurisdiction until 1848, there were 155 mulattoes in a total town population of 718, making them the second largest casta group behind those categorized as Spaniards. The collapse of the mulatto population and substantial increase in the number of mestizos reported in census records from the late 1790s onward attests to greater possibilities for upward ethnic mobility on the Texas frontier….

Read the entire article here.

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Paralegal claims discrimination by law firm because of mixed-race heritage

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2013-03-26 03:36Z by Steven

Paralegal claims discrimination by law firm because of mixed-race heritage

The Southeast Texas Record: Southeast Texas’ Legal Journal
Beaumont, Texas

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau

HOUSTON – Montgomery County resident Darren Chew claims he was subjected to racial discrimination while working for a collections law firm and has filed a lawsuit.

Recent court papers filed March 15 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas allege Rausch Sturm Israel Enerson & Hornik LLC mistreated Chew because of his mixed heritage.

The plaintiff, whose father is of Chinese descent and mother white, worked as a paralegal/paraprofessional at the time of the events in question.

He states that derogatory racial terminology was often used at the respondent’s office and within the management’s earshot.

According to the suit, Chew was occasionally referred to as a “chink”, “chinaman”, “Uncle Tom” and “cracker”…

Read the entire article here.

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The ‘Yellow’ Rose of Texas

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, History, Texas, United States on 2013-03-20 03:36Z by Steven

The American folk song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” is but one testimony to the desire for mixed-race women.  The version of this song that most baby boomers were compelled to learn in grade school is devoid of its original reference to a mulatto slave woman, Emily Morgan (Horton 1993:137, Turner 1976), because through the decades the lyrics have been changed.

There’s a yellow rose in Texas that I am going to see,
No other darkey knows her, no darkey only me;
She cried so when I left her, it like to broke my heart,
And if I ever find her we never more will part.

She’s the sweetest rose of color this darkey ever knew,
Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew,
You may talk about your Dearest May, and sing of Rosa Lee,
But the yellow rose of Texas beats the belles of Tennessee.

The song was inspired by Morgan, who unwittingly played a decisive role in the defeat of General Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón at San Jacinto.  According to Turner (1976), Morgan was a slave owned by Colonel James Morgan, who bought her in New York [City] and transported her to Texas in [October 25,] 1835.  There she was captured by General Santa Anna, whom she served as a concubine.  According to ethnologist William Bollaert, Sam Houston succeeded in a surprise attack in the battle of San Jacinto against Santa Anna, who was amorously engaged with Morgan.  While Morgan may have led to the demise of Santa Anna’s troups, she was also an inspiration for “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” which has become integral to American folk music.

According to Turner (1976:49) the song was “composed and arranged expressly for Charles H. Brown by J. K. …  Through the years the identity of the initialed composer or arranger has remained a mystery” (see original lyrics in Appendix E).  Throughout the ensuing decades, writers have changed the lyrics, and after the 1858 and 1906 versions (see Appendices F and G), the term “darky” disappeared altogether, thus obliterating the metaphor of the yellow “rose.”  While lyrics can easily be changed, the historical accounts, and, indeed the progeny of mixed unions cannot obscure the genetic record. Despite theories that promulgated the inferiority of African women, it was not unusual for Europen American men to engage in conjugal relations with these same women.

Obiagele Lake, Blue Veins and Kinky Hair: Naming and Color Consciousness in African America (Santa Barbara: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003), 21.

Read more about the “Yellow Rose of Texas” here.

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White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001 [Wintz Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Texas, United States on 2013-02-11 06:27Z by Steven

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001 [Wintz Review]

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001, Michael Phillips, (The University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX, 78713-7819) 2006. Contents. Illus. Notes. Biblio. Index. P. 267.

East Texas Historical Journal
Volume XLV (45), Number 2, Fall 2007

Cary D. Wintz, Distinguished Professor of History and Geography
Texas Southern University

As the writing of Texas history has grown increasingly sophisticated in recent years, relatively little of this new scholarship has been directed at the history of Texas cities. Michael Phillips addresses this shortcoming in White Metropolis, his study of Dallas from its founding to 2001. Phillips’ focus is race, but not as it is usually conceptualized. This is not a history of African Americans in Dallas, or for that matter a study of Dallas race relations. Instead Phillips organizes his study around the concept of race in all of complexity. Influenced in part by Neil Foley’s tri-racial study of black, Mexican American and poor white workers in Texas agriculture, Phillips broadens our usually narrow concept of race to include blacks, along with Mexican Americans, immigrants (especially those from southern and eastern Europe), the white working class, Jews, Catholics, and even women. These otherwise disparate groups share the fate of having been marginalized and oppressed—sometimes violently—by the white power elite that dominated Dallas’ political and economic development and controlled its history and its image of itself.

Central to Phillip’s analysis of Dallas history is the theory of “whiteness,” which the author defines as much as an attitude as a complexion. “Whiteness rested on a steadfast belief in racial differences, support of capitalism, faith in rule by the wealthy, certitude that competition and inequity arose from nature, and rejection of an activist government that redistributed political or economic power.” (12)…

Read the entire article here.

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In order to prevent the development of a mulatto population that might inherit the political and economic wealth of the racial ruling class, white leaders promulgated harsh legal penalties in the 1840s and 1850s attached to blackness.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes, Texas, United States on 2013-02-11 03:51Z by Steven

As this chapter will argue, soon after Anglo Texas’ separation from Mexico in the 1835-1836 revolution, white elites created a society rooted in the absolute legal separation of the white and black worlds. In order to prevent the development of a mulatto population that might inherit the political and economic wealth of the racial ruling class, white leaders promulgated harsh legal penalties in the 1840s and 1850s attached to blackness. Blacks faced slavery, the death penalty for many crimes punished less severely for whites, and laws defining the offspring of mixed-race parents as enslaved bastards ineligible for inheritance. Whiteness was defined simply as the absence of blackness, Indian blood, or other racial “pollution,” although many who were socially accepted as white had been polluted in this manner. Elites hoped that the social superiority all whites ostensibly enjoyed over blacks ameliorated disparities of power and wealth within the white community.

To the dismay of elites, however, frequently severe weather and a cash-strapped economy made life insecure for the non-slaveholding majority. In Dallas, divisions developed along economic and regional lines, leading to outbursts of violence that disturbed elite confidence and security. When a fire destroyed downtown Dallas in 1860, elite suspicions settled on white abolitionists born outside the South. The violence of 1860 created the terrain on which postwar racial ideology developed. Elites labeled those opposed to their notions of race and class hierarchy as uncivilized and therefore not fully white. After Reconstruction, the city leadership embraced a more fluid concept of race in which white status could be gained or lost based on acceptance of elite social norms. This more flexible definition of whiteness, which held dissent in check, shaped Dallas politics for more than 130 years afterward.

Michael Phillips, White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007), 1. The Music of Cracking Necks: Dallas Civilization and Its Discontents.

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The Lure of Whiteness and the Politics of “Otherness”: Mexican American Racial Identity

Posted in Census/Demographics, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2012-09-13 00:30Z by Steven

The Lure of Whiteness and the Politics of “Otherness”: Mexican American Racial Identity

University of Texas, Austin
185 pages

Julie Anne Dowling

Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the The University of Texas at Austin In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Using a “constructed ethnicity” (Nagel 1994) approach, this project employs multiple methods to explore the racial identification of Mexican Americans. The U.S. Census has grappled with appropriate strategies for identifying the Mexican-ancestry population for over a century, including the use of a “Mexican” racial category in 1930. I examine historical documents pertaining to the 1930 Census and the development of the “Mexican” racial classification, as well as how Mexican Americans in the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) constructed “White” racial identities in their efforts to resist such racialization. I then explore contemporary Mexican American identity as reflected in current racial self-reporting on the U.S. Census. Finally, I conduct fifty-two in-depth interviews with a strategic sample of Mexican Americans in five Texas cities, investigating how such factors as socioeconomic status, racial composition of neighborhood, proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, social networks, nativity/migration history, Spanish language fluency, physical appearance, and political attitudes affect their racial and ethnic identifications. Results indicate a complex relationship between personal histories and local community constructions of identity that influences racial identification.

Table of Contents

  • List of Tables
  • List of Figuresxii
  • Chapter 1: Latinos and the Question of Race
  • Chapter 2: Modernity and Texas Racial Politics in the Early Twentieth Century, LULAC and the Construction of the White Mexican
  • Chapter 3: The “Other” Race of Mexican Americans: Exploring Racial Identification in the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Censuses
  • Chapter 4: “Where’s Hispanic?” Mexican American Responses to the Census Race Question
  • Chapter 5: What We Call Ourselves Here: Mexican American Racial and Ethnic Labeling in Texas
  • Chapter 6: Just An(other) Shade of White? Making Meaning of Mexican American
  • Whiteness on the Census.
  • Appendix A: Census 1990 Race Question
  • Appendix B: Census 2000 Race Question
  • Bibliography
  • Vita

Chapter 1: Latinos and the Question of Race


The roots of this dissertation can be traced to a qualitative study I began as an undergraduate, interviewing persons of “biracial” mixed Mexican-Anglo heritage like myself. During the course of this research that became the basis for my master’s thesis, I discovered that according to the U.S. Census, Latinos are not a racial group. This did not fit my experience growing up in Texas where I found myself torn between two different worlds, one white and one brown.

This disjuncture between government classification and self-identification, between federal definitions and regional definitions of race, is at the heart of my project. The goal of this dissertation is to explore the historical roots of the census classification of Mexican Americans as “White,” and to examine who rejects this classification, identifying as “Other” race. Are there significant differences between these groups? What factors play into how Mexican Americans label themselves? And what are the meanings of these labels?

The most common “other race” response given on the racial identification question of the 1990 U.S. Census was a Hispanic identifier—Hispanic, Latino or a nationality such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban (U.S. General Accounting Office 1993). While approximately 51% of Mexican Americans in the 1990 census identified as “White” on the racial identity question, an almost equal proportion (47%) identified as “Other.” In 2000, the numbers were similar with 48% of Mexican Americans identifying as “White” and 46% as “Other.” It is clear that a substantial number of Mexican Americans view themselves as a racial group outside of the current census classifications of White, Black, Native American, and Asian American…

Read the entire dissertation here.

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A Heritage Celebration: Event recognizes both Hispanic and Native American roots with symposium and several performances

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Texas, United States on 2012-04-08 22:37Z by Steven

A Heritage Celebration: Event recognizes both Hispanic and Native American roots with symposium and several performances

San Marcos Daily Record
San Marcos, Texas


San Marcos — San Marcos will experience a unique, two-in-one heritage celebration in a combination of two nationally recognized heritage months — Hispanic and Native American — on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, 211 Lee Street.

A Sunday Matinee will also take place at 3 p.m. the next day at the Texas Music Theater.

“We’re bringing attention to the fact that most Hispanics in Texas have Native American ancestors and can celebrate two national heritage months,” says Dr. Mario Garza, chair of the Indigenous Cultures Institute that is producing this event. “Most Hispanics can legitimately embrace a Native American identity because they still retain much of their indigenous culture like customs, foods and even their Native language.”…

…“Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez will be one of the speakers in our Indigenous-Hispanics Symposium,” said Dr. Lydia French, managing editor of Nakum, the Institute’s online journal. “Dr. Rodriguez is one of the major figures in the historic struggle against the Arizona legislature’s anti immigrant law SB 1070 and ban on ethnic studies programs.”…

…Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández and Margaret E. Cantú-Sánchez will be joining Dr. Rodriguez as presenters on the “Education: The Indigenity Challenge” panel.  Dr. Guidotti- Hernández teaches Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona and her published articles include “Reading Violence, Making Chicana Subjectivities” and “Dora the Explorer, Constructing ‘Latinidades’ and the Politics of Global Citizenship.”

Cantú-Sánchez is pursuing her doctorate degree in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is developing her “mestizaje” theory, which proposes that a balance of cultural and institutional philosophies of human knowledge ensures a better grasp of one’s identity…

Read the entire article here.

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The Orange County War of 1856

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Texas, United States on 2012-03-08 03:31Z by Steven

The Orange County War of 1856

W. T. Block, (1920-2007)

Reprinted from W. T. Block, “Meanest Town on The Coast,” Old West, Winter, 1979, pp. 10ff.
Sources: Galveston Weekly News and Tri-Weekly News, June 1 to July 15, 1856. The issue of July 15 of Tri-Weekly News contains a full, 8-column page of the war. Also, an excellent secondary account is A. F. Muir, “The Free Negroes of Jefferson and Orange Counties, Texas,” Journal of Negro History, XXXV (April, 1950), 183-206.

Any visitor to Madison, Texas, (now Orange) in the month of May, 1856, would have hardly imagined that that community was steeped in jealousy and hatred. Only four years earlier, Orange County had cut itself adrift from neighboring Jefferson County and established its county seat at Madison, a prosperous village located on the Sabine River, twelve miles from its mouth, and cooled by the prevailing southerly breezes from Lake Sabine.

Madison had no log-cabin or unpainted clapboard ugliness. Already a thriving timber products center, it had grown from zero population to 600 in ten years. One early writer praised its fairy-tale appearance, 150 white cottages “ensconced like a duck in a nest of roses” and encircling a mile-long river crescent studded with stately cypresses. Five steam saw mills and shingle mills, two shipyards, a dozen other hand-powered industries, stores and cotton warehouses lined the banks of the river where six steamboats and numerous sail craft transported lumber and cotton abroad. A multi-billion foot reservoir of huge, virgin cypress and pine forests abutted the community that had already become the state’s leading exporter of lumber, shingles, lathes, fence pickets, barrel staves, and wagon spokes.

If Madison’s idyllic setting belied its ugliness within, it also left as totally inexplicable the strangest circumstances that were ever a party to vigilante violence and twelve assassinations—a sheriff who, along with his uncle, comprised the most skillful ring of counterfeiters in early-day Texas; a West Texas killer who rode with the Moderators, the party of “law and order;” and a dozen free Mulattoes, who were slaveholders, wealthy cattlemen, and considerably less “black” than the hearts of their persecutors.

By 1856 Orange County, Texas, had the largest aggregate of “free blacks” in the state, numbering about 100. The nucleus of the Mulatto colony included Aaron, Abner, William, Jesse, and Tapler Ashworth and their children; Hiram Bunch, Gibson Perkins, and Elijah Thomas, all of whom were either brothers, in-laws, or were otherwise closely related. The wives of some of them were white, whereas a few white men in the county had Mulatto wives (mixed marriage was illegal, although seldom enforced). Most of them having arrived in Texas by 1834, a few of them held Mexican land grants. Some had military bounties or land grants from the Republic of Texas, and most of them had served one enlistment in the Texas Army in 1836. While several of mixed ancestry were Mulattoes, others were of quadroon or octoroon ancestry.

Despite the marriage laws of the state, six of the group had taken white spouses, a continuing process which had left some of them as a whole “three or four generations removed from black blood” (a phrase coined by an early county historian). Except for their disfranchisement from the political and judicial processes, they had gained most of the privileges of whites, including an 1840 enabling act from the Congress of the Texas Republic to circumvent the forced removal of free blacks from the state. Although many of them were widely respected, they still had committed, in the eyes of their neighbors, one cardinal and unforgivable sin—they had accumulated large tracts of valuable lands and thousand of cattle which were coveted by others.

Nonetheless, the free blacks were allied through marriage bonds and partnerships to many white settlers as well (one of whom was Sheriff Edward C. Glover), who rallied to the Mulattoes’ side whenever the violence began. Hence, the number of free blacks and their allies made it impossible for any small number of whites to attack them without considerable bloodshed…

Read the entire article here.

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