History Department
History Department

Historian to receive alumnus award; prize for book on Mexican workers during World War II

Mon, September 27, 2010
Historian to receive alumnus award; prize for book on Mexican workers during World War II
Prof. Emilio Zamora

Emilio Zamora’s book, Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas; Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II (Texas A&M University Press, College Station 2009), the first book-length study that examines the Texas  homefront from a transnational perspective, has brought him added recognitions.

Zamora has been selected to receive the Tejano Heritage Award for his scholarship and record of public service in the Latino community from Texas A&M University at Kingsville (TAMUK). The award will be presented to Zamora, an alumnus of TAMUK, during a luncheon on Oct. 7, 2010 at the same institution.  

The award program is part of the university’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month festivities. The award has special significance for Zamora because TAMUK played a special part in the education of Mexican youth as the only four-year institution in South Texas (Southeast of El Paso and South of San Antonio) at least until the 1970s. The award also acknowledges Zamora’s recent publications, including Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs, and his student activist record at TAMUK.

Zamora will also receive a third book prize for Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs. He had previously received best book awards for history from the Texas State Historical Association and the Texas Institute of letters. The Tejano Genealogical Society from Austin has selected him to receive the Clotilde P. García Tejano Book Prize.

The award is named after a pioneer in the fields of medicine and civil rights history. García, the author of ten books in Mexican American genealogy, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a medical decree from the University of Texas at Galveston. She also founded the Spanish American Genealogy Association in Corpus Christi and was an active member of several organizations, including the American G.I. Forum.

Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs casts a wide net over the wartime economy, New Deal policies, Mexico-U.S. relations, the official and popular language of justice and democracy, and the deleterious effect of discrimination on wartime recovery among minorities, especially Mexicans.

The book also addresses Mexico’sinterventions on behalf of Mexicans in the U.S., and the U.S. State Department’s decision to bring the Good Neighbor Policy home as an anti-discrimination initiative in social and labor relations. 

Zamora examines the interplay of Mexico’s advocacy policy and the State Department’s Good Neighbor Policy in the work of the Fair Employment Practice Committee in employment discrimination. Diplomatic policies, in other words, reinforced the Mexican civil and labor cause led by the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Zamora’s overarching argument is that wartime concerns in Mexico-U.S. relations raised the issue of race to a hemispheric level of importance, invigorated the Mexican cause for equal rights, and provided important opportunities for unity with African American activists.  

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