10/19/10 Blanton wins award for article on immigration in 1950's Texas

  • Associate History Professor Carlos Blanton received the 2010 Bolton-Cutter Award from the Western History Association for best article on Borderlands history.
  • Blanton outlines the conflict over immigration and civil rights brought on by the Saunders-Leonard Report, which depected  harsh working conditions and racial discrimination facing farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley.
  • Blanton describes the “citizenship sacrifice” Mexicans Americans faced by balancing their heritage with their desire to integrate into U.S. culture.

Blanton wins award for article on immigration in 1950's Texas

Carlos Blanton, associate professor of history at Texas A&M University has won the 2010 Bolton-Cutter Award from the Western History Association. The award is for the best article on any aspect of Borderlands history, which is broadly defined as any area stretching from Florida to California.

The article, “ The Citizenship Sacrifice: Mexican Americans, the Saunders-Leonard Report, and the Politics of Immigration, 1951-1952,” ran in the autumn 2009 issue of the Western Historical Quarterly.

The article outlines the complicated conflict over immigration and civil rights that arose among Mexican American leaders in Texas over the Saunders-Leonard Report, which portrayed the harsh working conditions and racial discrimination facing immigrant farm workers in the Rio Grande Valley.

“This is part of Blanton’s larger research project into the status of Mexican Americans in the 20th century,” says Walter Buenger, professor of history and department head. “His work focuses on such major questions as how Mexican Americans defined and debated citizenship, identity, the use of language, and racial/ethnic solidarity.”

Buenger adds that according to Blanton, the post-1930s period Mexican Americans were often caught in a difficult bind, labeled the “citizenship sacrifice.”

“They could abandon newly arrived immigrants from Mexico in favor of claiming citizenship for themselves. They could immerse themselves in the English language,” says Buenger. “On the other hand, they could make common cause with African Americans, claiming to be different from Anglos and subject to discrimination. They could pursue unity of purpose with all people of Mexican heritage. They could sustain their use of Spanish. Most walked a path somewhere between these poles and experienced a sense of loss.”

Blanton, who earned his Ph.D. from Rice University, came to Texas A&M from the Chicano/Latino Studies program at Portland State University. He has published articles on Mexican American education history in Journal of Southern History, Pacific Historical Review, Social Science Quarterly, and the Journal of South Texas. His book The Strange Career of Bilingual Education in Texas, 1836-1981 was published in 2004 by Texas A&M University Press and won the 2005 Tullis Prize for Best Book in Texas History by the Texas State Historical Association. He is currently at work on his second major project, a biography of famed pedagogue and civil rights activist George I. Sanchez. At Texas A&M Blanton teaches Texas history, Latinos in the U.S., 20th century U.S. history, and U.S. education history.

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Contact: Alecia Beriswill, here, 979.862.8019