"A Life Of Two Cultures" an autobiography written by Dionicio Morales
The elder Morales was able to buy a plot of land but family could only afford to erect a tent and live in it for many years, until his fruit stand became a profitable store and he was able to build that house. Lack of funds contributed to family disease over the years, and Morales lost several siblings to TB.
Growing up, Morales was repeatedly reminded of his difference from Anglos. He had a growing consciousness of the "silent rules about being an American that had nothing to do with being born in this country" (Morales 56). He was ignored by some teachers, despised by others, though despite such petty local demonstrations of bigotry by 1937 he was also the class valedictorian. By the time he went to college in Santa Barbara he was used to feeling alien in an Anglo world but was not prepared to be shunned from an unexpected source: his impoverished European Spanish Santa Barbara landlords, who had been displaced by the Mexican revolution carried on by dark-skinned indigenous peoples such as Morales.
But it was not until he was ejected from a movie house for sitting in the Anglo section (126-7) that the "them" against "us" mentality transformed his life toward social activism. An organized attempt to desegregate the El Rancho Theatre ended in success, and Morales made a project of learning more about the experience of oppression of Mexicans in California. He became involved as a Dept. of Labor employee in improving working conditions for braceros, then in attempting to redress conditions producing gangs in East Los Angeles.
It was in East L.A., in the context of the notorious Sleepy Lagoon murders, that Morales found social and cultural purpose. Aware of how the Mexicans accused in the murder of a white were more or less railroaded, Morales "became determined to help my community make substantial changes" (145). For several years Morales's focus
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