A moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.
Between 1910 and 1920, vigilantes and law enforcement―including the renowned Texas Rangers―killed Mexican residents with impunity. The full extent of the violence was known only to the relatives of the victims. Monica Muñoz Martinez turns to the keepers of this history to tell this riveting and disturbing untold story.
Operating in remote rural areas enabled the perpetrators to do their worst: hanging, shooting, burning, and beating victims to death without scrutiny. Families scoured the brush to retrieve the bodies of loved ones. Survivors suffered segregation and fierce intimidation, and yet fought back. They confronted assailants in court, worked with Mexican diplomats to investigate the crimes, pressured local police to arrest the perpetrators, spoke to journalists, and petitioned politicians for change.
Martinez reconstructs this history from institutional and private archives and oral histories, to show how the horror of anti-Mexican violence lingered within communities for generations, compounding injustice by inflicting further pain and loss. Yet its memorialization provided victims with an important means of redress, undermining official narratives that sought to whitewash these atrocities. The Injustice Never Leaves You offers an invaluable account of why these incidents happened, what they meant at the time, and how a determined community ensured that the victims were not forgotten.
"Serves as a reminder that government brutality on the border is nothing new. In fact, it was the heart of the Texas Rangers' mission a century ago."―Lily Meyer, Los Angeles Review of Books
“The Injustice Never Leaves You serves as a long-overdue reality check on the Texas Rangers’ legacy. Martinez traces the group’s history from its relatively humble beginnings in the 1830s―as a small band of armed men organized by Stephen F. Austin to protect settlers―to what it had become by the late 19th century: a state-sponsored terror squad directed to secure white racial hegemony along the Texas-Mexico border…As a renewed militarization of the border takes place, along with new state-sponsored crimes against migrants―see the Trump administration’s cruel family separation policies, for one―it’s an apt moment for this book’s hard lessons of non-textbook Texas history to go mainstream.”―Michael Sandlin, Texas Observer