Elizondo, Rainlilly (2016-04). The City that the Civil Rights Movement Forgot: Segregation and Collective Memory in Lubbock, TX 1890-1990. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This work uses previously unpublished primary documents and oral histories from several archives to demonstrate that the city of Lubbock, TX began a collective memory in 1955 that misrepresented the status of race relations, and allowed them to claim a civil rights movement was unnecessary even though protests and marches were occurring throughout the rest of the nation. This work lays out how the city council, main city newspaper, and the city's Anglo population began constructing a post-racial narrative by touting that Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) voluntarily desegregated in 1955, suggesting that desegregation throughout the city followed without incident. The city built on this narrative by arguing that the city united during the aftermath of a 1970 tornado that tore through the city, ending all remaining remnants of segregation. However, as this study explores the events during the three decades following the 1970 tornado, such as the Department of Justice's (DOJ) lawsuit against LISD, and the civil rights activity that occurred in the wake of the DOJ's presence, it is made evident that the city's collective memory is more myth than reality. Although some achievements were made towards racial equality during the three decades, the misrepresentative narrative is continuously pushed by the city, uncontested by the Anglo majority, and defiant that racial progress occurred by force. As a result the core of the city's racial inequality remains, hindering future aspirations of its Mexican American and African American populations.

publication date

  • April 2016