Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Hubert J. Miller
Dr. Gilbert R. Cruz
Dr. Porter A. Stratton
In an area like the Rio Grande Valley of Texas with a majority population of unskilled Mexican-Americans who generally worked for another group in trouble, the farmer, there was bound to be a high rate of unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration responded to unemployment with the several New Deal public works acts in 1933. The question then arises: what effect would such acts have on a majority group in an area where the minority population had political power?
Extensive use of county and city newspapers, a number of interviews, a short survey, and direct examination of minutes of both county and city commissioners meetings reveal that the impact of the public works projects on Mexican-Americans in the city of McAllen, Texas, (Hidalgo County) was consistent with the attitude of the minority group in control toward the majority population. This attitude was one of neglect.
The New Deal public works acts as designed by the federal government tended to ignore the needs of many groups. Too much power was placed in the hands of local officials who did not consider such groups when planning federally-funded projects. On both the county and city levels, the major benefit derived by Rio Grande Valley Mexican-Americans from these public works was through employment. Even then, relief workers were looked down on by officials and employers, particularly farmers who denounced higher wages on federal projects. The poverty of the Mexican-American prevented his participation in these projects in which the federal government required the resident to put up part of the cost. For the most part, however, projects were planned by local officials to meet the needs of the north side or Anglo community. No leadership existed which would have pushed for programs to help Mexican-Americans during the Great Depression.
Pan American University