A gathering holding up mirror

November 11, 2018 GMT

In 1968, Latinos in Texas and elsewhere attended low-performing segregated schools. They lagged in educational attainment, in income and in a variety of other important economic indicators.

It’s 2018. In Texas and elsewhere, Latinos attend segregated — and underfunded — public schools, albeit not because of official edict. Now, it’s for reasons that include low-income and high-income residential patterns.

Whatever the reasons, the outcomes are the same.

To wit: According to the U.S. Census, in 2016, 21.4 percent of Latinos were at or below the poverty line, compared to 9.1 percent of whites. Just over 16 percent of Latinos lacked health insurance; that figure was 6.7 percent for whites. Just over 31 percent of Latinos lacked a high school diploma, but it was 6.2 percent for whites. The percentage of Latinos with a bachelor’s degree or more in 2016 was 16.4 percent, for whites, 37.3 percent.

No doubt Latinos have made economic and educational strides since 1968, when the Chicano movement decrying lack of civil rights reached crescendo pitch. And, yet, even cursory observation will reveal that where inequities exist today, Latinos are still holding the short end.

This is why it’s so fitting that 50 years after a landmark meeting of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in San Antonio at what was then-Our Lady of the Lake College, another gathering will examine what progress has been made. That confab is “50 years later — Holding Up the Mirror.” This will occur Thursday through Saturday at Our Lady of the Lake University.

What will come out of that gathering of community activists and other experts is a new set of recommendations for fixing what inequities exist.

We applaud this effort and urge community backing.

In 1968, one big issue was that Latinos were not mentioned prominently in the civil rights discussion. That meeting 50 years ago made clear that the same Jim Crow policies that kept black Americans down did the same in many of the same ways for Mexican-Americans in the Southwest.

While the cruder aspects of Jim Crow have been dismantled, the inequities persist. Moreover, other assaults on voting rights in Texas and elsewhere — including gerrymandering — are still serious discriminators.

It’s is good that this group will “hold up the mirror.” It’s a mirror that society as a whole would do well to look into. Helping Mexican-Americans advance, specifically in the Southwest, and helping Latinos nationwide is crucial. They will become the largest plurality in the country.

We are confident these recommendations will be worth heeding, particularly in the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature.