MEXICAN AMERICAN JOINT COUNCIL
MEXICAN AMERICAN JOINT COUNCIL. The first meeting of the Mexican American Joint Council was convened by George I. Sánchez in Austin on January 7, 1967. The purpose of the group was to work cooperatively as an alliance of "Latin" leaders in Texas for the betterment of their people. Among those groups represented at the meeting were the American G.I. Forum of Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations, the Republican party,qqv the Bishop's Committee for the Spanish-Speaking, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, and the Valley Workers Assistance Committee. Sánchez, who was elected chairman of the council, opened the gathering with a critique of the poor educational status of Mexican-American public school students, calling their situation "a scandal" about which officials were unconcerned. The council, concurrent with the Chicano movement, proclaimed itself an activist group that would undertake research on the socioeconomic status of Mexican Americans and bring public pressure to alleviate inequities. It decided to meet regularly and focus specifically on equal access to education and employment. At its first meeting, the council called on the Texas Education Agency to provide adequate data on the performance of Mexican-American public school students and state employment practices. It also passed resolutions calling for more social services for migrant workers, a state minimum wage of $1.25, the economic development of the Texas-Mexico border, and opposition to the reinstatement of the bracero program and to an increase in state college tuition.
After the meeting Sánchez sent a report on it to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor John Connally. His letter reflected the concerns addressed by the council and urged that "crash programs" for the economic improvement of Mexican Americans be implemented to keep Texans of Mexican descent from becoming "completely disillusioned and cynical with their status in their homeland." At another meeting in Laredo on May 13 the council called for supporting labor unions and voter-registration drives. Later Sánchez wrote to Connally on behalf of the council asking that the Texas Rangersqv be dissolved on the grounds that "the Rangers [were] a private strong arm of the Governor and a state police force used to thwart the aspirations of the working man of south Texas." Records indicate that the council probably operated for three more years, with Sánchez its leading proponent. He continuously protested discrimination on behalf of the council, singling out such issues as the lack of a proper category for Mexican Americans in the United States census, the segregation of migrant school children, and the need for expanding the authority of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under Sánchez the council was also an early advocate for championing the teaching of hispanic culture and the Spanish language in public schools.
George I. Sanchez Papers, Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin. Texas Observer, January 20, 1967.