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Pho to by She l Hers horn Activists and farm workers marched from the Valley to Austin in 1966 to ask for a $1.25 minimum wage. Antonio’s Kelly Field, where approximately 10,000 of 35,000 civilian employees were Mexican Americans, none had a position above that of a laborer or a mechanic’s helper. This pattern was common throughout the Southwest. Federal investigations in the mining, oil, ship, and aircraft industries in 19431944 revealed that in a good many cases “Latin Americans” classified as common laborers and semiskilled workers were in fact performing skilled jobs at the lower rate of pay. The weakening of labor barriers was due to direct federal intervention in the form of the Fair Employment Practices tive order, the FEPC was charged with the task of seeing that no federal agency or company doing business with the government discriminated against any person because of race, color, creed, or national origin. Field operations did not begin in the Southwest until 1943, and only then did Mexican labor begin to be integrated into the industrial plants. Carlos Castarieda, FEPC regional director for Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana, stated that “the shipyards, the airship factories, the oil industry, the mines, the munition factories, and the numerous military and naval installations slowly, reluctantly, and with much misgivings, began to give the Mexican American a trial in semiskilled posi tions, and eventually in some skilled jobs.” These trials and experiments met general opposition from Anglo employees during the war years. In one dramatic episode in 1945, the oil union at Shell’s Deer Park Refinery responded to the FEPC-ordered upgrading of three “Latin Americans” by going out on a wildcat strike in protest. Even within the FEPC administration, resistance to FEPC policy surfaced. Many staff members told Castatieda that when the war “was over the Mexican American would be put in his place.” Whatever appearance of “fair employment” and unity existed during wartime rapidly evaporated during peacetime. One Sam Smith of Sonora expressed the opinion of many in West Texas when he complained to Texas officials that he and his fellow veterans did not fight for “ill-smelling Mexicans” who were overrunning movie houses and would soon probably move into swimming pools, dancing places, schools, and cafes; they were even taking veterans’ jobs. Thus, with the return of the normal labor supply and the withdrawal of such controversial wartime agencies as the federal FEPC, job discrimination against Mexican Americans returned in force. When the United States employment offices were turned back to the states in November “relapsed to the discriminatory practices in general use before the war.” Mexican Americans who registered for skilled jobs were never referred to the employers calling for such skills. The only openings to which the former U.S. Employment Service referred Mexican Americans were common labor jobs. Some observers saw an overall attempt to destroy any economic or social gains made by Mexican Americans during the war years. The South Texas newspapers had begun a steady campaign against the Mexican and his “lawlessness.” And every attempt by state Senator J. Franklin Spears of San Antonio to check anti-Mexican discrimination was defeated. With the entry of thousands of “wetbacks” in the mid1940s, the ineffective Mexican ban and the accommodating Good Neighbor Policy no longer mattered. When the matter of funding the GNC came up, the legislature refused to give the commission any power other than that of research. After a few years of further emasculation, the GNC devolved into the international public relations arm of Texas government. It was too late, however, to turn the tide back. World War II had accelerated industrialization and the flight to the cities and generally had shifted the principal arena of Mexican and Anglo THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9