Monday, May 2, 2011

Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Worker Camps (Litchfield Park)

Goodyear Farms, Southwest Cotton Gin and Cattle, Arizona, 1943 (Source: Jose Villela Photography Collection)
Goodyear Farms Cemetery Mural depicting the laborers and fields of Litchfield Park during the early and mid 1900s (photo by Zack Wallace, April 2011)

One of the only remaining structures from the days of the camps, St. Thomas Aquinas Church played an important role in the lives of the workers and their families (photo by Zack Wallace, April 2011).

Goodyear Farms Cemetery
1/4 mile south of West Indian School Rd on North Santa Fe Trail

St. Thomas Aquinas Church
East Wigwam Blvd and South Neolin Ave, Litchfield Park, AZ 85340

In the early 1900s, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, struggling to meet cotton demands to produce tires and rubber, established a subsidiary in Arizona named the Southwest Cotton Company.  Goodyear chose Arizona due to its climate, which is very similar to that of Egypt, which was a large producer of cotton at the time.  The first camp Goodyear set up was just south of present day Chandler.  Eventually Goodyear found land in the present day Goodyear-Avondale area, west of downtown Phoenix.  The company focused on this area, and sold its land near Chandler to a California company.  Eventually, the headquarters for the Southwest Cotton Company moved from downtown Phoenix to Litchfield Park.  The town of Litchfield Park, located about 20 miles west of downtown Phoenix, was created by Goodyear and the Southwest Cotton Company to house its workforce. 
In 1917, the Southwest Cotton Company sent representatives to Mexico to recruit laborers, who were granted entrance into the United States through a six-month bond granted by the immigration service (Lucio 88).   There were a total of five camps associated with the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  All were located in what is now known as the Goodyear, Avondale and Litchfield Park tri-city area.  The first of the camps, Camp 50, also referred to as ‘Camp Algodón’ or ‘Centro’ was the main camp.  It was located near the intersection of Indian School Road and Dysert Road.  Camp 51 was located just south of Camp 50.  Camp 52 was located west of Litchfield Road and south of Roosevelt Irrigation District.  Camp 53 was located at the corner of Indian School Road and Alsup Road.  Camp 54 was located two miles south of Camp 53. 
Although wages at the camps were low, they were still attractive to Mexican laborers because housing was provided for free, unlike other similar labor camps in the Phoenix area.  Mexican culture was maintained in the camps, and Mexican holidays were observed.  The families of the laborers toted flags of both the United States and Mexico during these celebrations, showing their loyalty to their new country, while holding onto and their Mexican roots and culture.  Mexican culture was most preserved through the Catholic Church.  Children were taught about their faith, mainly by their mothers, and were brought to the local church, St. Thomas Aquinas, for mass and to gather with children from other camps for significant moments in the life of a Catholic, such as First Communion.
Today, none of the buildings associated with these camps are standing.  Most were demolished during the 1990s to make way for expanding suburban development.  However, St. Thomas Aquinas Church is still standing, as is the cemetery where many of the Mexican laborers from the camps were buried, now referred to as the Goodyear Farms Historic Cemetery, or the Litchfield Cemetery.  The Church appears to be in good condition, but remains locked and seemingly unused.  The Cemetery contains many graves, the majority of which are unmarked.  However, the cemetery does house a mural near the entrance.  The mural depicts the fields of the area, as well as the Mexican laborers who worked those fields and their families.  Many of the people in the mural are mourning the death of a fellow friend or family member while Jesus looks over them and their colleagues working the fields in the background.
These camps have left a lasting impression on the area as many of the descendants of those who worked in the camps now live in the Litchfield Park-Goodyear-Avondale area.  This area houses a large Latino population and is seems very supportive of preserving the Mexican and Latin American cultures represented in the area.
It is important to note that although similar, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company camps were not part of the Bracero Program that was seen during the World War II era.  The Goodyear camps preceded the Bracero Program by about 20 years. 

- Zack Wallace and Erin Seivley

Cuadraz, G. H. (2007). Mexican Americans and Litchfield Park: An Oral History Project. Tempe: Arizona State University.

“Goodyear Farms, Southwest Cotton Gin and Cattle, Arizona, 1943” in Jose Villela Photography Collection, MP Photographs, (accessed April 23, 2011)

Jesus Rosales Rios, "Photo of bracero in camp," in Bracero History Archive, Item #521, (accessed April 12, 2011).

Lucio, David Drew (2007). Mexican Suburbanization in the Salt River Valley: Resurrecting the Memory of Litchfield Park (Master’s thesis).  Arizona State University, Hayden Library, Tempe, AZ.

Rankin, T. (2009, January). Litchfield Farms Historic Cemetary. Three Rivers Historical Society Quarterly, 6, 4.

St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church. (2010, Spring). Litchfield Legends, n/a, 3-6.

The Women of Goodyear Farms  (1916 - 1986). (n.d.). Arizona Women's Heritage Trail.
Retrieved April 11, 2011, from

Tempe Normal School (ASU)

Residents of San Pablo, AZ, in front of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, circa 1892 (photo courtesy of

Students of the Tempe Normal School in front of the original Old Main building (photo courtesy of
View in front of Old Main on ASU's Tempe campus, April 2011 (photo by Erin Seivley)

Tempe Normal School (now Arizona State University) is a square mile campus bordered by University Dr. and Apache Blvd. to the north and south, and Mill Ave. and Rural Rd. to the east and west.

What is known today to be ASU has a long history dating back to before this area was even know as Tempe. Charles Trumbull Hayden, a famous entrepreneur who made his money as a merchant in Tucson, was travelling through the Valley on his way to Prescott when the Salt River flooded. He climbed the butte, which is now known as Tempe Butte or “A” Mountain and realized that if the Native Americans and Mexicans could live there, he could start a thriving town on the river. In December 1870, Hayden built a flourmill and a lot of other infrastructure in the bustling town later named as Hayden’s Ferry, often with Mexican immigrants doing most of the manual labor.

As the city grew, the Mexican community who had been living as farmers and ranchers on the land for many years before Hayden arrived became increasingly unsettled with the way the city was developing. Although they were promised certain lands and property for the work they did, they were never granted them and decided to form their own community. According to historian Marsha Weisiger, “[The Mexicans of San Pablo] learned that their title to the land which they had developed was not recognized and that the land was designated as a school section.” The Mexicans moved to 80 acres on the east side of the butte and lived in a separate town known as San Pablo. 

Across the street from San Pablo, five acres were donated to build the Territorial Normal School after House Bill 154 passed with the 13th Legislature on March 12, 1885. The school was established as an institution to instruct teachers on how to teach the norms of society to their students, as well as agricultural and mechanical skills. It officially opened its one building on February 8th, 1886 and its teaching program ran for 16 weeks. Hiram B. Farmer, who would later have his name on one of the education buildings at ASU, was the only faculty and the first enrollment had 33 students, 20 women and 13 men. Farmer also took care of the maintenance around the small campus. The first class graduated in 1887.

The Normal School had training schools throughout the town; one 4th grade, one 3rd grade, one 2nd grade, and two 1st grade classes with about 12 students each. When the grammar school was built on 10th and Mill in 1914, the elementary school on 8th became one for primarily the Mexican children from San Pablo. The white teachers and citizens of Tempe believed that this segregation, along with more teachers per class and special attention was better for the Mexican American students and would keep them in school. The Eighth Street School gained statewide notoriety as a result of a 1925 lawsuit, Romo v. Laird, which challenged an agreement between Tempe Elementary School District No. 3 and Tempe Normal School to operate the school as a “Mexican training school” for Mexican American children. While Mexican American parents won the right to send their children to Tempe’s nearby “American” public school, Tempe Normal School and the district also secured the right under “separate but equal” laws to continue operating the segregated training school and its “Americanization” curriculum until its closure in 1945.

Since then, the Tempe Normal School evolved from a territorial school to an accredited four-year university that is world-renowned in many different fields. It is now known as Arizona State University and is the largest university in the United States. Someone who walks around campus can see the university’s rich history and traditions, including the naming of many buildings on campus after influential leaders in Tempe, including Hayden Library and the Hiram B. Farmer Education building.

This racial segregation in schooling is something has been prevalent throughout the history of this country. Unfortunately, the city of Tempe is part of that history. In fact, the state of Arizona and especially the Salt River Valley, is still heavily involved in the Mexican immigration debate. According to author Laura Gomez (2008), the idea of “Manifest Destiny” is very prevalent especially in the Southwest. This belief that whites have a “divine right” to any area they want, and to control/get rid of the people who live there. This unfortunately was the case here in Tempe. However, the city has done a lot to fix the problems of its past including ending the segregation, allowing the Mexican community to rebuild Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, and allowing the history of the Mexican American citizens of San Pablo to be told along with the illustrious history of Arizona State University.

- Erin Seivley and Zack Wallace


City of Tempe. (1994). San Pablo. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from Tempe History Museum:
Gomez, L. E. (2008). Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race. New York: NYU Press.
Hermann, W. (2008, May 28). Uncovering pre-Tempe, Hohokam site. The Arizona Republic , pp. A1-A2.
Ruiz, V., & Sanchez Korrol, V. (2006). Latinas in the United States : A Historical Encyclopedia. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Weisiger, M. (1977). This History of Tempe, Arizona: 1871-1930, A preliminary report. Tempe: Tempe Historical Society.

The Chandler Roundup

An officer searched someone during the 1997 Chandler Roundup (photo courtesy of

Shopping center in downtown Chandler on Chandler Ave. during the Chandler Roundup (photo by Erin Seivley, April 2011)
(courtesy of Google Maps)
The Chandler Roundup occurred in the area surrounding Arizona Ave. from Ray Road and the 202 to the north and south, and Alma School Road and McQueen Blvd. to the east and west. (See above map)
“The girls pointed down the street and said that the officers told us to keep our birth certificates with us or they will send us back to Mexico. Both girls kept saying, ‘Mom, we don’t know Mexico.”
 - Quote from the “Results of the Chandler Survey” written by the Office of the Attorney General Grant Woods, 1997

On July 27th, 2007, 35 officers from the Chandler Police Department in conjunction with five Border Patrol officers started a joint effort to reduce crime in the downtown area of the city by asking for identification from anyone that looked “Mexican” or of “Mexican descent.” The officers stopped people walking to their cars, shopping at the local shopping mall, getting gas, forced their way into their homes, and even stopped children on their way home from school.

A day prior to what later has been termed the “Chandler Roundup,” Chandler City Council members were informed of the police department’s idea to reengage “Operation Restoration” which had been started in 1995. The city of Chandler was one of the fastest growing in the United States due to a booming suburban community at that time and 19.3% of the residents were Latinos. The Latinos emigrated here from Mexico to take advantage to the growing population and job opportunities in factories such as Motorola and Intel. This operation was started to redevelop older neighborhoods, which incidentally had the highest percentage of Mexican Americans, immigrants, and primarily low-income families. The city council felt that crime had been increasing in the city wanted to get rid of this issue to encourage white businesses and family to move into the area. City officials approved the roundup after less than two minutes of discussion with the police chief and without specific details relating to its scope. The Attorney General had not approved this plan and the police officers had no training in immigration laws and procedures.

In a review done by the Office of the Attorney General after the roundup in 1997, it was discovered that the police were racially profiling the people they questioned and asked for identification from. The office found dispatch tapes from those five days including discussions from officers saying that “They were looking for dark-skinned workers speaking Spanish (Romero)” and that “Mexican appearance” was the primary and sole purpose for stops. The officers also had already partially filled out the identification paper work with most of the boxes having “Mexico and/or Mexican” typed into them. The officers had no probable cause for stopping most of the people they questioned or going into their homes. The officers also did not often fill out the correct paperwork, or any at all. The police and Border Patrol officers asked people a range of different questions, from asking for identification, to drivers licenses, to green cards, to work visas, to passports, etc. They also spoke Spanish to some of the people they questioned. These people later reported feeling like this was a trap and also reported speaking back to the officers in English as though to not give it away that they were Hispanic or of Mexican descent. Many of the people stopped were U.S. citizens and legal residents.

432 undocumented Mexicans were arrested and deported during those five days. Although formal reviews were conducted of the actions performed by the officers, no one was ever punished legally. No one in city council nor were the police and Border patrol held accountable for their actions even after the formal review by the Office of the Attorney General.  A report from Cleveland State University reviewing the roundup stated, “Poor and working class Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants already know that they can not move freely without being identified as suspicious in upper and upper middle-class neighborhoods throughout the Phoenix area unless they are in uniforms as gardeners, construction laborers, kitchen workers, maids, and other low-wage jobs.” The roundup not only reestablished this fact, but also created the third border in a larger way by saying they were no longer safe to walk to their cars, get gas, or sit in their homes without being questioned about their citizenship. Authors Moctezuma and Davis defined the third border as discrimination against racial minorities at the actual border (1st) or in certain private areas (2nd), but in public spaces such as malls and gas stations. The Chandler Roundup is also another example in the history of the United States of “non-white” people being questioned on their citizenship and treated without rights just based on the fact that they are of a “different” race.

- Erin Seivley and Zack Wallace


Moctezuma, A., & Davis, M. (1999). Policing the Third Border. Colorlines, 160-163.

Romero, M. (2005). Violation of Latino Civil Rights Resulting from INS and Local Police's Use of Race, Culture and Class Profiling: The Case of the Chandler Roundup in Arizona. Cleveland State Law Review , 52 (1 & 2).

The Arizona Republic. (2010, July 28). Immigration and Arizona: A timeline in photos. Retrieved April 9, 2011, from

Welch, D. (2007, August 29). Scars slow to heal. East Valley Tribune , pp. 1-2.

Woods, O. o. (1997). Results of the Chandler roundup. Chandler: State of Arizona.

Tempe Beach Park

Tempe Beach Park segregated pool facility, circa 1943 (photo courtesy of Tempe HIstorical Museum)

Tempe Beach Park Splash Playground, April 2011 (photo by Katelain Saunders)
602 S. Mill Avenue Tempe, AZ 85281
Tempe Beach Park located in the Heart of downtown Tempe has been a major gathering place for the community of Tempe since its development.  Today it is a cultural venue for concerts and events as well as a recreational haven for joggers, bikers, picnic goers and any one in between. In the early 1920’s Tempe Beach Park was the new central gathering place for recreation and fun for the community of Tempe. Much different than the park we see today the original Tempe beach park consisted of Arizona’s first Olympic size swimming pool, a base ball diamond, and a bath house and bleachers and later an open air movie theater. A great escape from the intense Arizona summer heat the public swimming pool quickly became a much welcome public recreation venue.
However like many public spaces throughout the United States in the early 20th century not all citizens enjoyed the privileges of using the swimming pool facilities at Tempe Beach Park. At a time when Jim Crow segregation and discrimination was prevalent throughout the United States particularly the American South, Mexican American citizens in the southwest were victims of this discrimination and segregation. When the public pool at Tempe Beach Park opened in 1923 the Mexican American citizens of Tempe were not allowed to use the facilities. Although there were no outward signs explicitly stating that Mexicans were not allowed in the pool many were turned away at the entrance and there was a general knowledge and understanding that Mexicans and Mexican Americans were not welcome there.  In the early 20th century there were “twenty one states that permitted or required segregation in various activities, the statues dealing with segregated recreational facilities did not form any pattern... This form of segregation was “almost uniform practice of the southern states… the compulsion [was] most frequently affected by state regulation of a non statutory nature, by local ordinance, and by prevailing custom” (McKay, 701).
Ms. Irene Gomez Hormell a resident of Tempe remembers the discriminatory practices employed by the Tempe Beach Park Pool against herself and other Mexican Americans, “Tempe Beach was only on Wednesdays we could go swimming, because the water was dirty and they were ready to- that was the day that they had dirty water, so it didn’t matter whether out skin was going to get that dirty, I guess, the water dirty.” (museum exhibit)
Other firsthand reports mentioned experiences of lighter skin Mexicans and Mexican Americans gaining entrance to the pool while they were not accompanied by darker skinned friends or family members. If they were seen with their darker skin friends they would not be admitted again, because then it was known that they too were Mexican/Mexican American. The experience of “passing” for white was one that was shared by light skinned African American minority members in light of Jim Crow segregation and discriminatory laws and practices such as the “one drop” rule that gave privilege to Anglo Americans by law and made any person with any amount of African Heritage a second class citizen in the United States. Those who were able to pass for white could escape out ward forms of discrimination while having to endure seeing discrimination towards other members of their community without the liberty to say anything. Similarly in the Mexican American population in the United States myths surrounding a Spanish identity and heritage arose to protect themselves from Anglo discrimination.  The “Spanish myth” historically was used by Anglos to obscure the Mexican heritage of the Southwest… the myth essentially praised the Spanish who explored, conquered, and settled in what became the Southwestern United States. Anglo enthusiasm for things Spanish encouraged some Mexicans to claim Spanish ancestry to avoid Anglo discrimination…Anglos understood Spaniards to be white and native to the region, while denigrating Mexicans as non-white immigrants”(Rodriguez).
Upon returning from battle in World War II Mexican American war veterans were angered by the segregation of the Tempe Beach Park Pool and decided to take action to force the city to desegregate the pool. The idea shared by many veterans of color returning from war was how, if they were allowed to sacrifice so much for their country could they not be allowed to swim in the public pool? Led by actions by individuals like Danny Rodriguez who “after military service returned to Tempe to make the segregated swimming pool open to the public”, returning veterans demanded changes in the segregated community they lived in. Their first success was in 1946 when Hispanic families were allowed to swim at the Tempe Beach pool.
In 1946 the Tempe Beach Board revoked the “No Mexicans” policy. Mexican American families could enjoy the recreational facilities along with their Anglo neighbors as long as they complied with the rules of the “3 C’s” 1. Clean Skin. 2. Clean Conduct. 3. Clean speech and in English.
Although in theory the pool no longer practiced discrimination, the English only rules and the cleanliness rules still rang of prejudice ideas and prejudice expectations that Anglo community members had for their Mexican American neighbors in behavior and hygiene.
After a series of transformations throughout the years Tempe Beach Park today still attracts kids to play in the water at the splash park located where the old pool used to be. The park still serves as a community gathering space and has throughout its transformation served as a center for culture and recreation. Thanks to the efforts of brave members of the community years ago who stood up in the face of injustice the park now holds a legacy of community fun for generations to come.

-By Katelain Saunders and Laura Tamez


McKay Robert B. “Segregation and Public Recreation”. Virginia Law ReviewVol. 40, No. 6
(Oct., 1954), pp. 697-731 Virginia Law Review

Rodriguez Joseph A. “Becoming Latinos: Mexican Americans, Chicanos, and the Spanish Myth
in the Urban Southwest”.The Western Historical QuarterlyVol. 29, No. 2 (Summer, 1998), pp. 165-185 Western Historical Quarterly, Utah State University on behalf of The Western History Association.

“Tempe Beach Park.” Tempe Historical Museum. 809 E. Southern Ave. Tempe, AZ 85282. Research Library, April 22, 2011.

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church, circa late 1800s (photo courtesy of Tempe Historical Museum).
St. Mary's Church rebuilt, circa 1903 (photo courtesy of Tempe Historical Museum)

St. Mary's Church construction - demolition of current Newman Center Building, April 2011 (photo by Laura Tamez)
230 East University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281

St Mary’s Church or “the Old Church” as it is referred to by the All Saints Catholic Newman Center Parishioners is the oldest Church in Valley, located on the corner of College and University.  It was built by professional brick layers, and members of the community in 1903 and still stands  with much of the original building.
After the Mexican American War the United States acquired much of what is today the American South West including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California and Texas. “American Settlers who had an “eye” on the west wanted to isolate New Mexico and form a white buffer state between populated New Mexico (60,000 Mexicans) and the Mexican State of Sonora…Congress also did not want to admit New Mexico because the Hispanic Roman Catholic population seemed ‘un American’.  These conditions made the development of Arizona as a territory and later as a state distinct from other states in the South West.(Mosqueda) Between 1870 and 1900 as settlers began to move into the area that is now Tempe about half the population was Hispanic. 
 William Kirkland a pioneer settler of the area “encouraged the Mexican laborers who had worked on the Kirkland-McKinney Canal to build a community on the southeast side of the Tempe Butte. He donated eighty acres of land for the townsite, and the sale of lots raised money to build an adobe church. To the White community, San Pablo became known as East Tempe or Mexican Town”( As the community of San Pablo continued to grow the need for a bigger chapel presented itself. There were not many Anglo American Catholics in the area at the time although there were some prominent Tempe citizens such as John Curry, J .J. Hodnett, Winchester Miller, and James T. Priest. that participated in the building project.  Father Severinus Westhoff, O.F.M., a German immigrant who had come to the Tempe in 1895, and who had started missions in both Scottsdale and Guadalupe headed up the project. The strength of the Catholic Church among Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the South West was a more of a cultural attachment than a strong religious commitment, however historically to be “Mexican was to be Catholic”(Mosqueda 90). Father Westhoff’s presence in Arizona is typical of the Catholic missionary experience among Mexican and Mexican American communities from the colonial era on. “To combat nativisim, the (Catholic) Church tried to “Americanize it’s flock. This happened not only in the southwest but throughout the country with Irish, Italians and other however European immigrants were largely volunteer immigrants while many Mexicans considered the southwest to be a part of occupied Mexico hence the “Americanization” was met with determined resistance”(Mosqueda 90)  The highly segregated nature of the San Pablo Barrio and community was such that most of the residents were Mexican and therefore Catholics. According to a firsthand reports “when the father decided to build a new church, there were not very many American Catholics at that time, but there were a lot of Mexicans already…and so that church was mostly built by the Mexican families -- not only money, but labor as well -They knew what they were doing, because they had experience. Most of 'em had come to Tempe before my time, from Mexico”(Pete Estrada). Men and young teenage boys helped in the construction of the Church from firing the bricks at a small mill that they constructed about two miles away from the site of the Church and laying them down for the building itself. The project was directed by a professional brick mason from Tucson and a brick layer from Phoenix but most of the labor was volunteer work done by the families in the community. Construction was finished in 1903 and the Church was dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and named St. Mary’s Church.
In 1932 the Bishop of Tucson, Daniel J. Gercke announced a decree to erect a new movable parish to serve Tempe that would be named Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The [old] Church became the home of this parish. “Between 19271941, the church was remodeled and a parish house built. Thereafter, a Catholic school and convent were also established. It was in the mid 1950s a new school and rectory were built on Rural Road, and in 1968 a new church, which carried with it the name of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The "Old Church" passed into the care of the Newman Catholic Student Center” (“Our History”). Around this same time after World War II enrollment at ASU increased rather quickly. In order to build new dormitories the college started buying all of the land north of University Drive. This area had been the largest and oldest of the Tempe barrios. Many of the displaced families moved to other areas of Tempe, the Salt River Valley and beyond (“Hispanic History of Tempe). The Church was added to the national register of historic places in 1972, also in the 1970s and 80s funds were raised to bring the building up to building code regulations as to be used as a place of worship once again by the community.                                 
Today as the Newman center embarks on a giant building project that has been in the works  for the last ten years for a new 250 seat chapel new office space and student center. The old Church currently serves as the only worship space hosting 7 masses every weekend. Under the direction of Father Robert Clements the church is home as a place of worship once again to Latino students and community members at ASU. An ongoing Latino outreach initiative begun this year including the addition of Spanish mass once a month, the Latino Catholic community at ASU and at the Newman Center in growing and taking roots once again.

- Laura Tamez and Katelain Saunders

Narrator: PETE ESTRADA Interviewer: HELEN HARTER Date of Interview: June 7, 1973Tempe Historical Museum Oral Histories” “Tempe History Museum” April 25, 2011. City of Tempe.
“Tempe Historic Property survey”. “Tempe History Museum”. April 25, 2011. City of Tempe. I Number: OH – 05Copyright © 2002

“Our History, Old Saint Mary’s Church”. April 25, 2011. All Saints Catholic Newman Center

Mosqueda Lawrence J. “Twentieth Century Arizona, Hispanics, and the Catholic Church”. U.S. Catholic Historian, Vol. 9, No. 1/2, Hispanic Catholics: Historical Explorations and Cultural Analysis  (Winter - Spring, 1990), pp. 87-103. Catholic University of America Press.

“Hispanic History of Tempe”. “Tempe History Museum”. April 25, 2011. City of Tempe.

Eighth Street School

A chain restaurant stands at the former location of the Eighth Street School in Tempe, April 2011 (photo by Katelain Saunders).
The Eighth Street School was a segregated elementary school in Tempe (courtesy of Tempe Historical Museum).

 80l S. Mill Ave. Tempe, AZ 85281

On the South East Corner of Mill Avenue and University Dr. where there is now a Chili’s Bar and Grill is where Tempe’s Eighth Street School used to stand. Originally a school for all children in the town in the early 1900’s, the Eighth Street School for grades k-8 soon became a space of racial segregation and disproportionate disadvantages for those who attended. With the building of the new Tenth Street School in 1915 the white students began to attend school in the new facility while the Mexican American or ‘of Spanish descent’ children were only permitted attendance at the older Eighth Street School.
            In 1925 Tempe resident and local farmer Adolfo Romo filed the first U.S. Mexican-American desegregation lawsuit—Romo v. Laird. In October of 1925 Romo brought his four children to the Tenth Street School and demanded enrollment but was denied permission. Principal William E. Laird and the school board used the claim to “Separate but equal” as justification for the segregated conditions. However, the students at Eighth Street School were not taught by professional teachers but rather teachers-in-training from the Tempe Normal School (Now Arizona State University). According to the minutes recorded by Clerk of the Board of Education Isabel F. Waterhouse the District strategically established the Eighth Street School as a means of lower level training for Teachers-to-be. She recorded on February 9, 1925 in a letter to County Attorney Gene S. Cunningham that for ten years “the white children attended the Tenth Street School and the Mexicans have attended the Eighth Street School” and that conditions have been “as nearly equal as it is possible to make them” (TD3, 21). The letter also reveals that the Tempe Normal School was in need of practice with students and therefore the Eighth Street School should be “turned over to them for training school purposes” (TD3, 21).  Contrary to these private recordings, the Board publicly professed that the “Eighth Street School is the same in every respect” to all other schools within District 3 (Jay).
            After a long struggle and persistence Romo won the court case and his children were admitted and enrolled in the Tenth Street School. Judge Joseph S. Jencks stated in his ruling that “The teachers… in the… Eighth Street School are inferior in attainments and qualification and the ability to teach as compared with the teachers… in the other schools of the district” (Jay).
            Throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century racial segregation in academic institutions has been a “key administrative practice leading to negative consequences” that still bleed into our society (Menchaca, 223). While schools are no longer legally segregated, the long history of academic isolation and discrimination is what many historians attribute to as a leading cause to the remnants of inequality in educational systems today. More specifically, the segregation and discrimination of Mexican Americans is arguably connected to the concept of Mexicans as a conquered people because of the 1846-48 Mexican American War and the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Manchaca, 223). Romo refused to be conquered. Although his victory did not desegregate schools as a whole, it provided a better education for his children and the other Mexican American children of Tempe. The Mexican American resistance to second-class standards at the Eighth Street School stood as a historical landmark and example for further progress in the desegregation of schools across the nation.

-By Katelain Saunders and Laura Tamez


Jay, Mark. “School Segregation Spurred Key 1925 Lawsuit.” Arizona Republic 01 May 2009:

15. Web.

Menchaca, Martha and Richard R. Valencia. “Anglo-Saxon Ideologies in the 1920s-1930s: Their

            Impact on the Segregation of Mexican Students in California.” Anthropology & Education

            Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 222-249. Web.

Rose DeForest, A History of Tempe School District No. 3, 1874-1991. Tempe School District

No. 3, 1991. Print.

Tohono O'Odham Reservation

Border fence on the O'odham reservation (photo by Estelle Santiago)

Two young O'odham girls, date unknown (photo by Jonathon Miller)
 Map of modern divisions of the Tohono O'Odham Lands (Source: O'Odham Nation Planning Department)
49 Main St., Sells, AZ 85634

The O'odham people once inhabited a land base was known as the Papagueria which been home to the O'odham for thousands of years. This land was located in the Southwest, extending South to Sonora, Mexico, north to Central Arizona, West to the Gulf of California, and east to the San Pedro River.
From the early 18th Century through to the present, the O'odham land was occupied by foreign governments. With the independence of Republic of Mexico, O'odham fell under Mexican rule. Then, in 1853, through the Gadsden Purchase O'odham land was divided almost in half, between the United States of America and Mexico. (Erickson, 1996).  
According to the terms of the Gadsden Purchase, the United States agreed to honor all land rights of the area held by Mexican citizens, which included the O'odham, and O'odham would have the same constitutional rights as any other United States citizen. However, the demand for land for settlement escalated with the development of mining and the transcontinental railroad. That demand resulted in the loss of O'odham lands on both sides of the border (Erickson, 1996). 
             Following the Plan de Iguala, O'odham lands in Mexico continued to decrease at a rapid rate. In 1927, reserves of lands for indigenous peoples were established by Mexico. Today, approximately nine O'odham communities in Mexico lie proximate to the southern edge of the Tohono O'odham Nation, a number of which are separated only by the United States/Mexico border. While the O’odham Nation is recognized by the United States government, the Mexican Government does not recognize the Tohono O’odham Nation.  The amount of O’odham lands in Mexico in 1940 was 10,000 square miles. That number has now dropped to only 3,000 square miles (Norrell, 1997).
Due to issues that have to do with immigration, the United States government began to heavily patrol the border area that is on O’odham land. A physical border was built and the O’odham land became militarized. On countless occasions, the U.S. Border Patrol has detained and deported members of the Tohono O'odham Nation who were simply traveling through their own traditional lands, practicing migratory traditions essential to their religion, economy and culture. Similarly, on many occasions U.S. Customs have prevented Tohono O'odham from transporting raw materials and goods essential for their spirituality, economy and traditional culture. Border officials are also reported to have confiscated cultural and religious items, such as feathers of common birds, pine leaves or sweet grass. (Norrell, 2001)
These changes altered the culture  and way of life for the O’odham people. The Tohono O’odham lands were also altered on the United States side of the border. Lands that would benefit other United States developments were taken from the O’odham people causing the O’odham Nation to become divided. The division of O'odham lands has resulted in an artificial division of O'odham society. O'odham bands are now broken up into 4 federally recognized tribes: the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Gila River Indian Community, the Ak-Chin Indian Community and the Salt River (Pima Maricopa) Indian community. Each band is now politically and geographically distinct and separate.
              The history of the Tohono O’Odham Nation explains the state of the nation to present date. It would explains how once disparate groups of  the O’odham evolved from varying subsistence economies and the self-suffiency to what it is today. Today the Tohono O’odham reservatation is characterized by the dependency of tribal and government program, chronic unemployment, underemployment, and lack of opportunity for it’s young people. (Erickson, 1996) That is how a little more than a century ago the Tohono O’odham were able largely by themselves to provide meaningful activities for both the adults and youth of the O’ odham Nation. The effects of  physically force separating a nation by two countries, the invasion of the home land by miitary force and overall the broken promises made to the original inhabitants of these lands by those who created power over them. 
- Faith Alvarez and Alex Connelly

Norrell, B. (1997). A new voice for autonomy: Indigenous peoples fight for survival in sonora, mexico. Indian Country Today (Oneida, N.Y.), , A7.

Norrell,B.  (2001)Tohono O'odham effort deserves support. Indian Country Today (Oneida, N.Y.), 21(5), A4

Erickson, W. P., University of Utah, & Tohono O'odham Nation. (1994). Sharing the desert :The tohono O'odham in history. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Roosevelt Row

Photo by Jack Haskell
631 E. Roosevelt Ave., Phoenix, AZ 95003
Roosevelt Row has been a vital mixed use area from the earliest days of the establishment of Phoenix. Many of the historic concrete sidewalks in the corridor were poured 1909, three years before Arizona officially became the 48th State. In the early 1940's, when there were approximately 30,000 people living in Phoenix numerous businesses were established along Roosevelt Street. The flower shop at Fifth Street and Roosevelt has been in continuous operation since 1948.            In the 1970's, parts of the area were re-zoned as a high-rise incentive district leading to land speculation and a decline of the neighborhood that lasted until the late 1990's. Many of these inhabitants were forced out of their homes to make room for the new developments. Along with the decline of a community came the downfall of the neighborhood. Many of the remaining homes became high crime areas and unsafe to walk through. The houses that once held settling families were now infiltrated by crime and poverty. 
As the years passed, the blighted area was attractive to artists because the boarded-up buildings and former crack houses were affordable for studio and gallery space. The arts were a major factor in the revitalization of the area resulting in significant decreases in crime as more people began to venture into the area to experience the cultural vibrancy. Many new art businesses have emerged in the past thirty years within Roosevelt Row (Vanesian, 2010) (Below: Photo of wall within present day Roosevelt Row. Credit: Jack Haskell) 
Roosevelt Row present day has become a vital cultural center in Phoenix, Arizona. Artist from all over Arizona gather every First Friday of the month to celebrate the artistic roots of Phoenix. Roosevelt Row proved that a poor neighborhood could hold on to its’ culture and radiate it to the rest of the city. The once abandoned homes have now found new care takers in the hearts of eclectic Phoenicians. This is a story of how a city fought back to keep itself from being torn down due to the “waste of vital space” many neighborhoods become once they are targeted.
- Faith Alvarez and Alex Connelly
Vanesian, K. (2010). "Looking back on the future" shows modified arts is in good hands. New Times (Phoenix, Ariz.),
A bit of history. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Paradise Valley Country Club

Paradise Valley Country Club (photos by Alex Connelly)
7101 North Tatum Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85253-3399

PVCC is located in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  It is a private club with a private golf course that opened April 10, 1954, was designed by Lawrence Hughes, and is located on 270 acres of land near Tatum Boulevard and Lincoln Drive. Today the Paradise Valley Country Club has approximately 1,000 members.  There is a dress code for the club, one must where a collared shirt and their information states that they do not accept credit cards. It is nestled in the mountains and secluded from what is outside the gates. PVCC is significant because of its efforts to keep the club a certain class and race.  Paradise Valley Country club was extremely exclusive and restrictive and they did not have any African American members.

The town of Paradise Valley didn’t begin until post WW II.  According to Barry Cox (2010) for Scottsdale Real Estate, in 1889 Rio Verde Canal Company saw the area where PV is now and was taken a back by its beauty and serenity.  The homes in PV were about one to five acres large.  Paradise Valley’s history of 40 years has tried to maintain, according to Jean Glass (2007), a Paradise Valley real estate agent a “residential community in a quiet and country-like setting with little government intervention.” The idea of Paradise Valley Country Club began in 1952 when a group of businessmen thought it would be a great idea for the locals and for the potential growth of the PV area (Cox, 2010, p. 1).

Many high- profile politicians were involved with the racial segregation that was occurring at Paradise Valley Country Club.  Some wanted memberships to be extended to African Americans, whereas other wanted it to be more of a natural occurrence.  Tom Fitzpatrick (1990) wrote an article titled “Rubbing Out Racism, Symington-Style,” for the Phoenix New Times. Fife Symington was at his home in Paradise Valley when his maid answered the phone and the man on the other end, who was with the campaign for governor, said the following, “Tell Fife it's about having no blacks at the Paradise Valley Country Club as members. He'll understand” (p. 5). Mr. Symington was shocked that someone is actually asking about black members at the Paradise Valley Country Club and said that he was not a part of the admissions committee.  The other gentlemen stated that there would be a democratic press conference and were going to charge Fife as being a racist and his campaign for governor had already been stalled for a month.  This issue at PVCC was brought to attention because of no blacks being at the Shoals Creek Country Club, where the PGA tour was taking place at the time and they were checking all country clubs around the country.  Symington said to the voice on the other end, “don’t they realize this is Arizona?”  Fife Symington then suggested that they get a black member into PVCC, especially before the election took place. He thought of getting Bill Crosby to join because he would have enough money to pay the initiation fee and then mentioned a few other known African Americans who were not from the Phoenix area.  The voice on the other line said they should be from Arizona. Symington responded with "who do we know in Phoenix who is both black and has enough money to join Paradise Valley?" (Fitzpatrick, 1990, p. 5).  The aide interrupted and told Symington that Lincoln Ragsdale has already told the press that he lives almost across the street and has tried to join for years.  Symington said in response, "He's rich and he's vocal. But if we let him into the club, he might want to bring a whole lot more of his black friends with him. That would be all right if they were good blacks.' But, as Ev says, you never know” (Fitzpatrick, 1990, p. 5).  Fife Symington ended the conversation by saying that he had the perfect answer, one that all Arizona republicans would understand, "I'll simply tell them that I hadn't noticed we don't have any black members at the Paradise Valley Country Club” (Fitzpatrick, 1990, p. 5).

To this day Paradise Valley Country Club seems to have a majority of white members and is still exclusive.  Though very little information is made available about exclusivity at PVCC we can note that even the Paradise Valley residential area is hardly diverse. 

- Alex Connelly and Faith Alvarez


Cox, B. (2010). Scottsdale real estate. Retrieved from

Fitzpatrick, T. (1990, August 15). Rubbing out racism, Symington style. Phoenix New Times, p. 5.

Glass, J. (2007). Paradise valley history . Retrieved from