In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals


by Michael A. Olivas

ISBN: 978-1-55885-760-5
Published: May 31, 2013
Bind: Hardcover
Pages: 320

Scholars examine the work of a pioneering Mexican-American civil rights leader in this collection.

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One of the most influential Mexican Americans of his time, Alonso S. Perales (1898-1960) is the subject of this engrossing collection of scholarly essays. A graduate of George Washington University School of Law, he was one of the earliest Mexican-American attorneys to practice law in Texas and was sworn into the bar in 1926. Perales helped found the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), served his country in several diplomatic capacities and was a prolific writer.

In Defense of My People sheds light on Perales’ activism and the history of Mexican-American and Latino civil rights movements. The essays, written by scholars representing a number of disciplines from the U.S. and Mexico, touch on a variety of topics, including the impact of religion on Latinos, the concept of “race” and individual versus community action to bring about social and political change.

Edited and with an introduction and chapter by law scholar Michael A. Olivas, In Defense of My People is the first full-length book available on this trailblazing Mexican-American leader. Scholars were able to take advantage of Perales’ never-before-accessible personal archive, which his family donated to the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project and is now housed at the University of Houston’s Special Collections Department of the M.D. Anderson Library.

Originally presented at a conference on Alonso S. Perales at the University of Houston in 2012, this volume is required reading for anyone interested in the history of civil rights organizations, public intellectuals of the early 20th century and Mexican-American political development in Texas.

Click here to listen to an interview with Michael A. Olivas about the book, In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals.