A study of the Texas Good Neighbor Commission

Date

1953

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Abstract

The Texas Good Neighbor Commission was created in 1943 to carry out a Good Neighbor Policy for the State. Its purpose was to eliminate some of the causes of dissension and dissatisfaction between the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking people of Texas. The success of the Commission has not been any greater than the real desire to improve the conditions of and the relations with the State's more than one million citizens of Latin descent. Actually, the Commission was created because Governor Coke R. Stevenson was prodded on one side by the Farm Bureau loby, which wanted to overcome a blacklist in order to import cheap Mexican labor, and on the other by the Office of Inter-American Affairs, which was concerned about the bad war-time publicity deriving from discriminatory practices in Texas. Since there are almost no original source materials for a sudy of this kind, most of the materials used were secondary, consisting of newspaper clippings and mimeographed publications. Several men who are or were connected with the Commission were interviewed for background, explanations, interpretation and opinions. The Commission began operation with war-time fervor, but, after the war, the motives that impelled its creation lost their urgency, and there was an inevitable recession in enthusiasm and support. Those with the Commission who did not make this post-war readjustment, soon found that their ideas were too liberal for the times. The Commission played a part in ending segregation n the public schools of Texas, but was rebuffed in the Legislature when it branded as discriminatory the refusal of a Texas funeral parlor operator to bury a Latin American soldier who was killed in World War II. The Commission finally lost the confidence of the orgnized Latin groups in the State, and, at the same time, announced its intention to extend its scopes to Latin American relations in general. While the Commission has not been too effective, and while it has not followed a positive program, it has, nevertheless, innaugurated some educational prgrams that can be expected to return something in the way of long-range improvements. The Commission has probably weathered an average number of political machinations, and its members and workers have probably been as able and sincere as average. In short, the Good Neighbor Commission has only been effective to the extend that there was a desire for it to be so.

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Keywords

Texas, Good Neighbor Commission, Discrimination

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