For today’s Hispanic Heritage Month mini-lesson, I present a quote used in the Sleepy Lagoon Murder Trial of 1942.
Without disparagement it may be said that there is a cruel streak in the Mexican nature, or so the history of Texas would lead one to believe. This cruelty may be a heritage from the Spanish of the Inquisition; it may and doubtless should be attributed partly to the Indian blood.
– Walter Prescott Webb, Texan historian
As I’ve mentioned before I’ve read a lot on pachucos, the Sleepy Lagoon trial, the Zoot Suit Riots, and other history of the Mexicans and Chicanos in Los Angeles. It’s fascinating, but hard to believe that prosecutors would truely argue that Mexican youth were more cruel because of our indigenous and Spanish heritage.
For more on the the Sleepy Lagoon case, check:
- Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon: Zoot Suits, Race, and Riot in Wartime L.A. by Eduardo ObregÛn Pag·n
- Sleepy Lagoon – Historia – Murder Mystery
- The Sleepy Lagoon Case: Constitutional Rights and the Struggle for Democracy (online exhibit)
- PBS’ American Experience on the Zoot Suit Riots
- Zoot Suit (1981) — Film written by Luis Valdez starring Edward James Olmos
Photo of Sleepy Lagoon defendants in San Quentin Prison. Signed “To Alice, with love from her boys.” Alice McGrath was the executive secretary of the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee.