Francisco Maestas et al. v. George H. Shone et al.

 Educational Desegregation 1914

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The nation’s earliest victory in the war against Hispanic educational segregation took place in Alamosa, CO. 

 

In 1912, Hispanic children of Alamosa were forced to attend a separate school from white children. The Alamosa School Board at the time argued that the Hispanic children needed language support and they should attend classes taught in Spanish in their own school building, even though most Spanish speaking children were fluent in English.

 

Despite the fact that the area had long been part of the United States, and the families were American citizens, the reference was made to “Mexican” and “American” families. 

Francisco Maestas and other members of the community tried to switch their children's enrollment. They were denied. They formed the Spanish American Union and petitioned for change with a resolution that was signed by the community. They were denied. They contacted the Colorado State Superintendant and were refused. They staged a boycott in protest, an action the school district later seized upon to claim Maestas wasn’t interested in his son’s educational progress. The boycott went on for three months. They organized further and with the help of the SPMDTU raised funds and hired a lawyer and took the school district to court. And won. 

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​​The SPMDTU (La Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos) was founded in Antonito in 1900 and led the region’s Indio-Hispano and Latino settlers in protecting land and water rights under territorial change. Today, generations of members reflect on La Sociedad's impact and look forward to reopening their flagship community building to the public.

Learn more: https://www.rmpbs.org/blogs/rocky-mountain-pbs/spmdtu-receives-14-million-to-restore-concilio-superior/

The SPMDTU was pivitol in funding lawyer Raymond Sullivan, who represented the Hispano families in the Maestas Case.

Visit the official site of the SPMDTU 

For over a hundred years, this story of Latino parents fighting for their children’s education was lost to history — until recently.

A three-dimensional sculpture depicting the Maestas children will be installed Thursday in the State Capitol in Denver in honor of the 108th anniversary of the decision in the case. The statue then will tour other parts of the state. 

“This case lay dormant for a century, and it took some strong efforts by academics to bring it to light,” said Ron Maestas, a retired educator and descendant of the Maestas family. “To me, Francisco Maestas gives us a lesson in courage, a simple man standing up against inequity. He stood up for his kids, because he wanted safety and education for them.”

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The traveling art history exhibit honoring the Maestas Case is a one-of-a-kind statue and digital video display with informational brochures.

 

The exhibit tour is to bring awareness of the case and of a celebratory event  that will take place in Alamosa on October 8th, 2022. This event will be put on by the Maestas Committee so the community of the San Luis Valley can come together to celebrate this hisotry. They will also perminantly install the bronze relief of 'Cruzando Los Traques (Vias)"in the entrance of the Alamosa County Courthouse. 

Updates will be added here and on social media as they are secured. 

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A railroad man, Francisco Maestas, knew the dangers of the railroad crossing, as well as the weather and, on Sept. 2, 1913, went to the superintendent of schools and asked to enroll his son. The request was refused and Maestas was told he had to enroll his son in the “Mexican School.” Miguel was kept out of school by his father due to an organized walkout which was part of the parent protest against the segregated school.

Judge Holbrook was convinced that school officials had used the English language deficiency and the academic unpreparedness of some Mexican American children as a rationale to send them all to the Mexican School up to the fifth grade. He declared English-speaking Mexican American children had the right to attend public schools near their homes, or schools of their choice, in the Alamosa School District.

THE UPRISING

THE OUTCOME

Photo 1908 by O.T. Davis