Little Mexico, Dallas Texas

This page was created in November of 2007, months before the movement to name a major Dallas street in honor of Cesar Chavez was started. The photo at bottom of this page was added to show Industrial Boulevard in relation to St. Ann's School. Industrial was the initial street considered, but city leaders had other plans. They offered Ross Avenue as an alternative to study. It was chosen overwhelmingly by the Cesar Chavez Task Force to be given the name Cesar Chavez Avenue.  Then, due to property owner opposition, it was ultimately denied as an alternative and the focus returned to Industrial.  The Industrial Boulevard alternative was officially and finally removed by city leaders from consideration on 11-10-08.

A web page, called Cesar Chavez Avenue, is linked here and dedicated to the issues involved in this ongoing renaming process.  The official Cesar Chavez Task Force web site is at www.CesarChavezTaskForce.com.

The heart of Little Mexico, St. Ann's School
(Caution: if you click on the photo below a 2.7 megabyte photo over 20 times larger will begin to load.  You may download it to print out a large copy.)

The red brick shell that remains of St. Ann's school can be seen until 11-15-07 from the Reunion Tower as in the above photo taken 10-12-07. Due to the valiant work of many alumni from St. Ann's that building has been saved from being destroyed for a new building. A ground breaking was held just a few days before this photo was taken for St. Ann's Court, an office building to be built on this site. While this red brick building will be preserved it may well be hidden from any view from Reunion Tower by the time Reunion Tower reopens in early 2009. This may happen due to many building plans in process on the lands that used to make up the Little Mexico Community many of us knew for most of the last century.

You may click on the above photo to download a copy of it that is 20 times larger.  The large copy is almost 3 megabytes. Once it is downloaded, if you want to return to this page, hit the back arrow.


View looking east along Turney Street, showing St. Ann's School at the corner of Turney and Moody, 20 November 1940.
Silver gelatin print made by an unknown photographer for the Dallas Street Department.
A81.9.54.
Gift of the Dallas Street Department.

St. Ann Parochial School was constructed in 1927. Managed by the Sisters of Charity, it was a valuable resource for the Dallas' Latino community. Thousands of children began their educations there.

This photograph is one of a series made by the Dallas Street Department in 1940-1941 during the widening of Turney Avenue (today's Harry Hines Boulevard). Although the photographer was concerned with making images of streets, curbs, and drainage ditches, his photographs today are a valuable record of the Little Mexico neighborhood.

The above photo on left and text is from www.dallashistory.org/history/dallas/st_anns.htm.


Below are archived pages as a record of documentation provided for these proposals to honor Cesar Chavez.


Campaign to name Cesar Chavez Avenue in Dallas

The Cesar Chavez Task Force is leading this movement.
Go to www.cesarchaveztaskforce.com for current information.

Click here to see slide show on the reasons for the recommendations on Cesar Chavez Avenue.

(The following list of postings is with the most recent entry first.)


Below are archived pages as a record of documentation provided for these proposals.


Rename Ross Avenue to Honor Cesar Chavez
 

People ask what Cesar Chavez did in Texas. The best answer is found when you go to the Texas Handbook web site (www.tshaonline.org) managed by the Texas State Historical Commission. When you search this Texas State Historical Commission web site for the name Cesar Chavez you will find his name and/or his work in Texas mentioned 9 times in the Texas Handbook. Search for Harry Hines, after whom a major north/south Dallas street is named that goes by Parkland Hospital, and you only get three hits. It is certain, with 9 mentions, that the name Cesar Chavez is more often present on the Texas State Historical Commission web site than the large majority of other names on downtown Dallas streets. Sam Houston is an obvious exception.

Jim Schutze has a wonderful opinion piece on the Cesar Chavez street naming chaos at www.dallasobserver.com/2008-07-31/news/what-s-in-a-nombre/. His opinion was only slightly wrong: the move of the name change process from Industrial to Ross, while it may have started as an "accommodation," is ultimately resulting in a much better solution for many reasons. Here are some of those reasons, most of which have been shared with the mayor and city council:

  1. Minority leaders were virtually ignored for Dallas street names prior to 1960. That must be corrected!

  2. Last year 70% of Kindergarten students in Dallas ISD were Hispanic. They are the future Dallas must build for.

  3. Ross Avenue runs along the southern edge of what was once called Little Mexico. It is only 6 blocks from the old St. Ann's school which was in the heart of Little Mexico, and is one of the few buildings preserved from that history. (See photo at www.studentmotivation.org/littlemexico/index.htm which also shows southwest tip of Ross.)

  4. Today the northeast end of Ross is 65% Hispanic, as are many locations in Dallas since 43% of the total Dallas population is Hispanic, 29% is Non-Hispanic White, and 23% is Non-Hispanic Black.

  5. Hundreds of thousands of current Dallas residents, from all ethnic groups, grew up working in conditions that Cesar Chavez successfully worked to change in Texas and across the nation.

  6. Ross Ave is the largest Hispanic gathering place in Dallas on Sunday mornings. Thousands of Hispanic families attend the Cathedral of Guadalupe each weekend on Ross, filling the Cathedral repeatedly during many repeated liturgical services, all day Sunday, and Saturday evening, that are necessary to accommodate the crowds. No church in Dallas has more people attend services every weekend. The Virgin of Guadalupe played a significant role in the daily life of Cesar Chavez.

  7. Ross Avenue was the gathering place for the largest Civil Right march in Texas history! From 1:00 PM, and for hours thereafter on April 9, 2006, Ross Avenue was filled with people walking most of it's length downtown.  They peacefully filled the entire street from sidewalk to sidewalk. (See photos taken that day, and others linked from www.studentmotivation.org/littlemexico/index.htm.) It is estimated as many as 500,000 people were present in the march. Most were Hispanic. It was an exceptionally impressive day! It is certain Cesar Chavez would have loved the non-violent nature of this huge march.

  8. Many of the businesses on Ross are either Hispanic (62%), or want to reach out to the Hispanic community for business reasons, and will support this change.

  9. A historical marker is being planned for the most-walked Ross Avenue intersection: North Market in the West End. It will document the history of the Ross brothers in Dallas, and possibly also the Carondolet name which was originally on the southwestern blocks of what is now Ross Avenue for over 70 years. The Ross Avenue name was expanded and the Carondolet name, going back to 1856, was deleted from maps sometime between 1930 and 1938. It is very appropriate that this naming process will lead to a historical marker that will better record the history of Dallas and bring almost forgotten pioneers back into public record and awareness.

  10. Both school and church were the center for life for Cesar Chavez. Ross has both the Cathedral and the DISD Central Offices on it. This is especially appropriate.

  11. A downtown street name will now reflect the presence of generations of Hispanic families who have done the work to literally build, and continue to build, much of our city and culture. It is only appropriate, since they are now the majority in the population of Dallas, that our city infrastructure names should reflect that reality.

  12. To always push minority names outside of downtown, as many have suggested, is a simple continuation of the "accommodation" scandals Jim Schutze painfully documented in the 1986 book, The Accommodation: The Politics of Race in an American City. (Copies of his book are in the Dallas Library.)

Anyone who is interested in being involved in these efforts to rename Ross Avenue may want to go to www.cesarchaveztaskforce.com for more current information.

The one thing this street renaming process has exposed again is the absolute need to better educate Texans about their own history. The history of this wonderful state and it's people is the most powerful tool we have for positive changes into the future. Our true history, not necessarily the recorded one, is powerful. When history is not recorded it is almost always due to political reasons, prejudice against minorities and the poor, and mistreatment thereof. We endanger our children and grandchildren to repeat that painful past if we ignore or hide it. We will not change until we can admit the factual, sometimes painful, truths of our past. The lack of change caused by a falsely positive image of our past will allow our grandchildren's generation to still suffer in ways too similar to those our grandparents generation suffered.

The process of exploration as we consider changing a street name helps us admit our past and build to a new and more positive future. We must leave behind the anger, hate, and ignorance of history, that has been reflected on blogs all over the Internet discussing the effort to put the name of Cesar Chavez on a street in Dallas. Dallas Morning News staff have even shut down at least one blog, refusing to take more comments, due to the anger and less than civil dialog reflected on that blog. (See http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/07/industrialcesar-chavez-votes-h.html#comments. You can also google blogs for “Cesar Chavez Dallas” to find other sad examples.)

Cesar Chavez would never have wanted us to respond with the same verbal violence that far too many bloggers have used to angrily attack the idea of placing a Hispanic name on a Dallas street. Fortunately, verbally violent counter-attacks by those supporting the Cesar Chavez name change have been rare. We are keeping with the spirit of Cesar Chavez.

We must continue the peaceful process we have begun to honor Cesar Chavez by only using the same peaceful methods he himself used. We have all benefited from his peaceful work.

Let's engage in a process that will say much about Dallas and how our beliefs are reflected in the way we change street names in our city to reflect our values.  It will say more about us than it will ever say about Cesar Chavez.  His legacy is already firmly established in the History of the USA. The history of Dallas is being built, day by day.

Be strong. Be firm. Above all, be peaceful. Pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Join us 8-5-08 at 9:30 AM in Dallas City Hall for a meeting of the Trinity River Committee in Room 6/E/S. They will consider the Ross Avenue proposal. Then at 11:30 AM on 8-5-08 we will meet in the Flag Room at Dallas City Hall for a press conference on the outcome of the meeting. See most accurate details at Cesar Chavez Taskforce web site at www.cesarchaveztaskforce.com.

8-3-08
Bill Betzen
bbetzen@aol.com
www.studentmotivation.org - a dropout cure


Below are archived pages as a record of documentation provided for these proposals.


Ross Avenue in Dallas was the gathering point for the largest civil rights march in Texas History!
It also was certainly one of the largest, and most peaceful, marches in US History.

It happened on April 9, 2006, and had to start about 10 minutes early due to the press of the unexpected crowds!

The above photo was taken about 1:00 PM.  The march actually had started about 10 minutes earlier than the 1:00 PM planned start time due to the unexpected crowds that were crowding around the Cathedral for many blocks.  Organizers were worried.  They started the march earlier than scheduled so as to relieve the crowd pressure that was mounting. It is estimated that it took about 10-15 minutes for the march to reach this point on Ross after leaving the Cathedral.
The above photo is from the LULAC photo album where there are many other photos from this wonderfully peaceful day.
You can find the album at http://www.lulac.org/gallery10.html. Another album online is at the Dallas Morning News web site.


Above photo from the LULAC album at http://www.lulac.org/gallery10.html.

 
This photo was taken from the corner of Ross and Griffin, under the 'u' in the photo at the top of this page.
It was an exceptionally peaceful march with almost no negative incidents reported!
Ross Avenue was filled with people for many hours as a half a million people marched.
It is very appropriate that Ross Ave be renamed in honor of a national leader in using such non-violent methods to support basic human rights.
That leader, Cesar Chavez, also happens to be Hispanic, as were the large majority of the marchers that peaceful day in April of 2006.


On about June 15, 2008 it was confirmed that Dallas civic powers will ignore a $20,000 survey they paid for that resulted in 52% of respondents wanted Cesar Chavez as the new name for Industrial Boulevard. Second place, with less than 20% of the vote, was the apparent winner.  The battle to name Cesar Chavez Avenue was shifted to Ross Avenue, a street even closer to the heart of the area known as Little Mexico,
and much more central to Hispanic History in Dallas!

The photo below shows Industrial Blvd in relation to the area formerly known as Little Mexico.


Little Mexico, like many other laborer communities in the history of Dallas, has been virtually erased from the Dallas landscape. Industrial blvd was the major transportation artery through the industrial area of the city where thousands of workers from Little Mexico, and similar communities, worked or traveled every day. It was very appropriate to consider honoring such workers by renaming Industrial Blvd in the honor of a national leader in workers' rights. For the same reasons it is now even more appropriate to rename Ross Avenue to honor Cesar Chavez.  Ross Avenue is significantly closer to the area once known as Little Mexico.

It is easier to ignore workers' basic human rights when we keep the names of such leaders hidden within their own communities, or somehow even try to turn a basic worker rights issue into a racial issue. Who benefits from such a distraction?


www.studentmotivation.org
The School Archive Project - Preventing Dropouts
Bill Betzen: bbetzen@aol.com
updated 11/20/2008