Dr. Samora understood the importance of leadership among the Mexican American people. He understood the historical lack of effective leadership. His doctoral dissertation, written in 1953, was about leadership in a Mexican American community in Colorado. He realized the institutional difficulties Mexican American leaders faced as they tried to negotiate their way through the Anglo-dominated society. Learning how to operate in such a world meant learning Anglo mores and customs at the risk of compromising or even losing the Mexican American culture as a result. This was a problem many generations old. It is a testimony to Dr. Samora’s creative scholarship that not only did he identify this leadership issue, but he was also able to provide solutions to this very real problem.

Samora played an important role in organizing coalitions of people. This took the shape of co-founding the Southwest Council of La Raza, which became the National Council of La Raza in 1972, and is the nation’s leading Latino civil rights organization. He played a key role in the founding of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Southwest Voter Registration Project. By serving on a variety of governmental and private boards and commissions, he brought his groundbreaking research to the attention of policy makers. Dr. Samora was effective in creating positive changes for Latinos through such entities as the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Public Health Service, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bureau of the Census, and the President’s Commission on Rural Poverty. He served on the board of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and the Notre Dame Press, recommending works by Mexican American authors for publication. This effectively turned the Notre Dame Press into a Chicano Press for a number of years. Dr. Samora collaborated with other scholars and his own students to promote the publication of new materials by Latino scholars about Latinos.

The following essay was presented at Dr. Samora’s retirement symposium in April of 1985 by Dr. Jose Hinojosa, one of the 57 students mentored by Dr. Samora. The video of this talk can be seen here.

  • Julian Samora: A Pioneer in Scholarship, Leadership, and Public Service
    “Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the four horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.”Rare would be the University of Notre Dame alumnus who has not heard at least once those immortal words written by Grantland Rice for the New York Times on the afternoon of October 8, 1924, as Notre Dame’s Fightin’ Irish football team defeated a much favored Army squad by a score of 13 to 7.But what most Notre Dame supporters may not be aware of is that there is a fifth horseman? his name is Julian Samora. On that day in which Rice coined those famous words, a young boy, born in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, of Spanish-Mexican-Indian heritage was beginning his ascendancy over ignorance. This Chicano cavalier whose feats against the prejudices and injustices that are the result of ignorance, has also brought honor and glory to Notre Dame du Lac. Unfortunately his accomplishments have remained rather anonymous to most Notre Dame followers, except to those of use who have had the good fortune of having known him. To his students at Notre Dame, he is the fifth horsemen? the knight of knowledge, the champion against ignorance, intolerance and injustice.Let us examine Julian Samora’s professional career. What has he done to deserve the tribute that we his former students and his colleagues grant him on this occasion?

    As a teacher he started in the Huerfano County High School, Walsenburg, Colorado, during the 1942-43 school year, right after he had obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from Adams State College, in Alamosa. But his interest in research came early for he spent the 1943-44 academic year in Colorado State University, in Ft. Collins, as a research fellow. The next year he returned to his Alma Mater, Adams State, to serve as an instructor. Here he taught, off and on, for eleven years. Breaking the continuity to do graduate study at Colorado State University, where he obtained his Master of Arts in 1947, and in 1948-49 when he went to the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, to serve as a teaching assistant while he did graduate work on the doctorate. He transferred to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, for the 1949-50 year, to continue his graduate studies. Still on the faculty of Adams State he conducted the research that led to his doctoral dissertation, Minority Leadership in a Bi-Cultural Community, in the rural countryside of southern Colorado.[1]

    One of the first attempts to study minority leadership, the dissertation still remains a benchmark for the study of both Mexican Americans and the problems of leadership for a minority living within a larger, dominant society. Samora analyzed the patterns of inter-action that are formed when there is a dominant-subordinate relationship and the attitudes of superiority and inferiority within the interacting groups. Samora focused on the roles that leadership plays in the interrelationship that developments within each group and in the interaction with the other group.

    He received the Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from Washington University in 1953, the first Mexican American in the United States to do so. His pioneering, however, was just beginning. In 1954 he was Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque. And in 1955 he became an Assistant Professor of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, in Denver. Here with the co-authorship of Lyle Saunders, R.F. Larson and W.A. Deane, he published some of the first findings in medical sociology and socio-linguistics.[2]

    In 1957 he moved to Lansing, Michigan, to teach at Michigan State. Two years later, in 1959, he joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame where he has worked for the last twenty-five years. During 1963-66 he served as Head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the first Mexican American in the United States to do so.

    In 1963, he was Visiting Professor at La Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogata, Colombia (S.A.). In 1964 he was Visiting Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, and in 1971 he was Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

    During this same period he served as a consultant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Rosenberg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the John Hay Whitney Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Weatherhead Foundation, the U.S. Human Resources Corporation, Harcourt Brace Jovanwich, Inc., and the U.S. Bureau of the Census.[3]

    Dr. Samora’s expertise and reputation as a scholar and public servant was now being recognized. He also served in the Colorado Ant-Discrimination Commission and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. And at the national level, he served in the Upward Bound Council, the President’s Commission on Rural Poverty, and the President’s Commission on Income Maintenance Programs.[4]

    Samora’s non-university service and experience laid the foundation for an outstanding career in teaching and research. From 1959, when he joined the Notre Dame Faculty, to 1961, he taught at four different universities, consulted with six federal government agencies, served on two state commissions, and one national and two presidential commissions, and four major private foundations. He also was a consultant to a film: La Raza ? The Mexican Americans (1969), and The Map Study of Mexican-American Historical Development for Hearn Brothers of Detroit (1970). During this time he also published twelve articles in professional journals, four government reports, and three books ? La Raza, Forgotten Americans (1966), Mexican Americans in the Southwest (1969), with Ernesto Galarza and Herman Gallegos, and Los Mojados: The Wetback Story (1971).

    Los Mojados appears to be the opus maximus for this twelve year period. For even though he cleared new paths in such areas as medical sociology, rural sociology, socio-linguistics, the sociology of education, the study of leadership, acculturation and social change, he was now focusing on the problems of Mexican-Americans, Mexican immigration, and studies of the United States-Mexico border area. Los Mojados also introduces Jorge Bustamante and Gilbert Cardenas as research collaborators. Here, Dr. Samora begins his second, but perhaps most productive period. His academic activity now centers on establishing the University of Notre Dame Press as the primary publisher of Mexican American materials, and in developing the Mexican American Graduate Studies Program.

    Before 1971, the University of Notre Dame Press had published two books related to Mexican American Studies. Influentials in Two Border Cities by William D’Antonio and William Form in 1965, which by 1983 had sold nearly two thousand copies, and La Raza: Forgotten Americans edited in 1966 by Samora, which up to 1983 had sold nearly 37,000 copies. Professor Samora next focused on promoting the publication of Mexican American studies. Relying heavily on his old friend Ernesto Galarza, another titan of Chicano scholarship and social activism, especially in the area of Mexican American labor studies, Samora pushed the Notre Dame Press to the forefront for publishing Chicano related materials by using the financial support from the Ford and other foundations. From Los Mojados (1971) to Kodachromes in Ryme, Galarza’s last work in 1983, the Notre Dame Press published fourteen major works dealing with Chicano Studies. The range begins with Galarza’s autobiographical Barrio Boy (1971), Spiders in the House and Workers in the Fields (1971), and Farmworkers and Agribusiness in California (1977). The press also focused on political issues with Chicano Revolt in a Texas Town (1974), the story of political struggles in Crystal City, Texas, by John Shockley; a reader on Chicano politics by F. Chris Garcia, La Causa Politica (1974); and Mario Barrera’s theoretical Race and Class in the Southwest (1979). Sprinkled in between is John A. Price’s Tijuana: Urbanization in a Border Culture (1973), Frances Leon Swadesh’s Los Primeros Pobladores (1974), Contemporary Chicano Theatre (1970) by Roberto J. Garza, and Raul Fernandez’s The U.S.-Mexico Border (1977). Samora also contributed two editions, A History of the Mexican American People (1977) with Patricia Vandel Simon, and Gunpowder Justice (1979) with Joe Bernal and Albert Pena. The last book deals with the abuses of power by the Texas Rangers and the question of justice for Texas Mexicans. Samora and his co-authors agreed that “the Texas Rangers are an anachronism … that … have indeed outlived what usefulness they once had.” “… The Rangers have operated without restraint and with seemingly unchecked power.”4 Samora again was dealing with a controversial topic cleanly, clearly, and squarely; pulling no punches, calling for reform and a “ceremonial duty” for the Rangers. This might not have endeared him to Anglo-Texans but for the large Chicano population in the Lone Star state this was welcomed as a reaffirmation of their complaint that there existed a historical pattern of abuse that they and their forefathers had endured.

    These fourteen publications have sold 135,000 copies (1983) making the University of Notre Dame Press the leading Publishing House of Mexican American titles. This is an average of 9,643 sales per title. The big sellers however are La Raza by Samora with 36,905; Barrio Boy by Galarza, 23,746; Samora’s Los Mojados with 12,889 and A History of the Mexican American People by Samora and Simon with 10,263. Of the fourteen publications, six were out of print in 1983.[5] For a university press this printing turnover is considered very successful. Thus, many other national presses now consider Mexican Americans and other ethnic subjects quite legitimate. Unfortunately, the young writers and their manuscripts are still in the developmental stage. However, one envisions another renaissance of Chicano scholarship such as that led by Samora and Galarza in a few more years when one considers the second aspect of Samora’s intellectual contribution.

    Professor Samora’s second, but perhaps most important, long range contribution is the Mexican American Graduate Studies Program. Begun in 1971, with the sponsorship of the Ford Foundation, Dr. Samora initiated the development of young scholars interested in furthering the study of Mexican Americans, immigration and migration, and United States-Mexican Border Relations. Beginning with Jorge Bustamante, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, the transitional nature of Samora’s thinking relating to La Raza begins to unfold. Bustamante is joined by Gilberto Cardenas, a Californian from the barrios of Los Angeles and recently touched by the Chicano Mortiorium of August 29, 1970. These two are followed by Miguel Carranza from the cornfields of Nebraska; Alberto Mata, an army brat, originally from Texas, but educated in Oklahoma; Juan Garcia, born in Texas, but reared in Chicago; Cordelia Candelaria, Ken Barber, and Estevan Flores from Colorado. From Texas arrived Delfina Landeros, Gillermo Rios, and Jose Losqueda from Austin; Danny Valdez from San Antonio, Rick Coronado from Laredo, Victor Rios from Hondo, and Salvador Acosta from Dallas. They were accompanied by Barbara Driscoll from Boston, Massachusetts, and Julie Leininger from Ypslanti, Michigan, and several others.[6]

    These students came from Mexico, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and the Great Midwestern plains, and even the east coast. They were city smart and rural wise. They were young, some not so young, but they were all answering a call. Some stuck it out and made it through the program. Some came, saw South Bend, the University, and headed back home. Others left at the first snowfall. All became homesick and nostalgic about their homes, families and friends at one time or another. But most stuck it out. A few hated it, some swore they would leave as soon as the weather cleared, but most endured.

    Despite the heavy academic schedule of graduate school, all funded students had to participate in Samora’s “Chicano Colloquim.” The “Colloquim” was a special type of obstacle course invented by Samora to test your commitment and dedication. Here every issue or problem facing La Raza would be discussed and analyzed; from education to immigration, economics to philosophy, the literature would be read and the “whys” would be deliberated. It was rumored that most of the students at least once in their Notre Dame experience swore that Samora was the devil, and that Father Theodore Hesburg knew it, but since he made everybody’s life so miserable it served the purpose of appreciating heaven that much more.

    Our other classmates of whatever ethnicity, never really knew what we were going through and we were not about to tell them. Most thought we shouldn’t have been here, so why give them the satisfaction of knowing our personal burdens. Most wouldn’t have understood and few wouldn’t have cared. But as of 1984, of fifty-seven who entered the graduate program, fifteen had received the Doctor of Philosophy, four their Juris Doctorate, nine had completed a Master of Arts, and there were four ABD’s (All But Dissertation). A few students transferred to other universities and completed their doctoral studies there (for example, Estevan Flores, University of Texas at Austin, and Hisauro Garza, University of California, Berkeley). Only seven withdrew from the program. Eight are still struggling through their special contrition. Fifteen majored in Sociology, thirteen in Economics, twelve in Law, seven in History, three in Psychology, and one in Government.[7] No other university in the United States can match this accomplishment in the production of Chicano graduates.

    Today you find Samora’s students in Mexico, California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Florida, New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and many other places, and these are only his graduate students. Who knows how many undergraduate students he has touched in a forty-three year career? What his Mexican American Graduate Studies program has done is create a cadre of Chicano academicians whose teaching, research, and service will have a tremendous impact on the development of Mexican American studies and the American Academy.

    Nearly twenty years ago Julian Samora edited La Raza: Forgotten Americans to launch a campaign to make the United States academic community more aware of La Raza and the problems faced by this resolute but often ignored people. Today, as we honor Dr. Samora we unquestioningly recognize La Raza. But perhaps some non-Hispanic Americans are still in the dark about who La Raza is. Well, then we must remind you that the United States of America one country out of thirty-six nations in the American continent; one of fourteen countries in North America; one of six English speaking countries which were at one time British colonies in the Western Hemisphere. There are twenty-six Spanish speaking nations in the Western Hemisphere, two French, one Portuguese, and one Dutch ? and they are all Americans.

    Today in the United States there are approximately 240 million people. The 1980 census figures, while dated, give us an idea of the diversification and pluralism of the United States. The total population in 1980 was 226,546,000 with 188,362,000 classified as White; 26,495,000 Blacks; and 14,609,000 of Spanish origin.[8] This Spanish origin population can be further divided into eight million of Mexican origin (Chicanos), two million Puerto Ricans; one million who are Cubans, one million of Central and South American origin, and another two million of other Spanish. By 1984, the unofficial count of Hispanics living in the United States numbered sixteen million making it the fourth largest Spanish speaking country in the world; next to Mexico; Spain and Argentina. Officially, Hispanics are the nation’s second largest minority next to Black Americans. But in reality, due to a high birth rate and immigration, estimates indicate that by the year 2000, Hispanics will surpass Blacks as the largest racial-ethnic minority in this country.

    This demographic data signifies Dr. Samora’s contribution to Raza studies. For in pioneering the study of La Raza and in helping young scholars enter into those studies, he built a bridge of understanding between the 200 million English speaking residents of the Western Hemisphere, with the 400 million Indo-Hispanos ? La Raza of the Americas. It is the foresight that has made Professor Samora the pathfinder in the study of our people, and that is why we offer our tribute and thanks. Today we recognize and honor the man so responsible for bringing all Americans together so that they may better know each other. A nation of immigrants, as called by John F. Kennedy, must understand its people, in order to understand itself. Julian Samora has lead the charge in trying to reach that understanding.

    In 1978, the American Sociological Association honored Dr. Samora as one of the outstanding sociologists in the country for his pioneering scholarly research into medical sociology, population studies, racial-ethnic relations, the education of Mexican-Americans, U.S.? Mexico border studies, and Mexican immigration. In 1979, the National Council of La Raza, an organization he helped establish as the Southwest Council of La Raza, honored him with the La Raza Award for public services. In 1980, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus names him one of the thirteen outstanding Hispanic scholars in the United States. In 1982, the Hispanic community of South Bend, Indiana, recognized him for his contributions during the Fourth Annual National Hispanic Week Celebration.

    Dr. Julian Samora has made a great contribution to Chicano scholarship, teaching, and public service. At the University of Notre Dame, by the shining light of the golden dome, under the watchful eyes of Our Lady, surrounded by the legend created by Knute Rockne and the four horsemen, today we publicly proclaim and debt and appreciation. He has been our mentor, our leader, our scholar, our teacher, our friend, — our fifth horseman.

  • Citations
    [1] Julian Samora, Minority Leadership in a Bicultural Community, Ph.D. Dissertation, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1953. “Minority Leadership in a Bicultural Community: An Analysis,” American Sociological Review, August, 1954 (with J.B. Watson). Reprinted in The Bobbs-Merrill Reprint in Social Sciences; George H. Conklin, Readings in Sociology: An Introduction; F. Chris Garcia, La Causa Politica: A Chicano Politics Reader, Notre Dame Press, 1974.[2] Julian Samora, “A Medical Care Program in a Colorado Community,” Health, Culture and Community, Benjamin Paul (ed.) Russell Saga Foundation, New York, 1955 (with Lyle Saunders); “Language Usage as a Possible Index of Acculteration,” Sociology and Social Research, May-June, 1956 (with W.N. Deane); “Medical Vocabulary Knowledge Among Hospital Patients,” Journal and Health and Human Behavior, vol. 2, Summer 1961, (with Lyle Saunders and R.F. Larson); “Knowledge About Specific Diseases in Four Selected Samples,” Journal of Health and Human Behavior, vol. 3, Fall 1962 (with Lyle Saunders and R.F. Larson).[3] Who’s Who In America, 42nd edition, vol. 2, 1982-83, p. 2927.[4] Julian Samora, Joe Bernal and Albert Pena, Gunpowder Justice: A Reassessment of the Texas Rangers, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979, pp. 166-167.
    5Sales Report on selected Mexican-American Studies Publications by the University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.

    [6] Report on Student enrolled in the Mexican-American Graduate Studies Program, 1971-1982, (March 14, 1984).

    [7] Ibid.

    [8] Statistical Abstract of the U.S.: 1982-83 (103rd edition) Washington, D.C., the Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1982.