Ernesto Galarza Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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...

(The entire section is 683 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bustamante, Jorge. Ernesto Galarza’s Legacy to the History of Labor Migration. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Center for Chicano Research, 1996. Examines Galarza’s role as advocate for Latino immigrants.

Galarza, Ernesto. The Burning Light: Action and Organizing in the Mexican Community in California. Interviews by Gabrielle Norris and Timothy Beard. Berkeley: University of California, 1982. Constitutes a series of interviews of Galarza and his wife conducted in 1977, 1978, and 1981.

Gomez, Laura E. From Barrio Boys to College Boys: Ethnic Identity, Ethnic Organizations, and the Mexican American Elite. The Cases of Ernesto Galarza and Manuel Ruiz, Jr. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford Center for Chicano Research, 1989. Explores the transition of key figures in the Mexican American community from immigrant to middle-class status and the resulting shifts in identity formation.

Meister, Dick. “Ernesto Galarza: From Barrio Boy to Labor Leader/Philosopher.” Leabhrach: News from the University of Notre Dame Press, Autumn, 1978. Gives an overview of Galarza’s accomplishments.

Meister, Dick, and Amme Loftis. A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America’s Farm Workers. New York: Macmillan, 1977. Discusses Galarza’s activities as a union leader.

Revelle, Keith. “A Collection for La Raza.” Library Journal, November 15, 1971. Points out Galarza’s impact on the Mexican American community.