The writings of Ernesto Galarza (gahl-AHR-sah) can be divided into three phases: the Pan-Americanist, the farm laborer advocate, and the educator. Galarza was born in a tiny mountain village in Mexico. When he was five, he, his mother, and two uncles fled the Mexican Revolution. They traveled for three years until they reached Sacramento, California.
At the age of twelve, Galarza lost his mother and one uncle to influenza. He continued his education with the assistance of his other uncle and worked after school and during the summers as a farm laborer and in canneries. His flight northward, his family’s struggles for survival, and the process of acculturation are depicted in his 1971 autobiography, Barrio Boy: The Story of a Boy’s Acculturation. This book is perhaps Galarza’s most outstanding contribution to Chicano literature for its pioneering spirit in the field of the essay and the fictionlike quality of its prose.
In 1923 Galarza received a scholarship from Occidental College in Los Angeles. In 1927 he received a fellowship from Stanford University, which awarded him a master’s degree in Latin American history and political science in 1929. After marrying Mae Taylor, a teacher from Sacramento, Galarza entered Columbia University, where he obtained his Ph.D. in Latin American history in 1932.
Galarza’s first publications belong to his Pan-American phase. In his book The Roman Catholic Church as a Factor in the Political and Social History of Mexico, Galarza defends the actions of the Mexican revolutionary governments, which aimed to limit the power of the Catholic church. He wrote his other Pan-Americanist...
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