TCU Endeavors Article & “Doer” Profile

Ichronicle ad am pleased to share that my an article on work appears in the current issue of Endeavors, the university’s magazine of research and creative activity.  Click here to read it.

The piece caught the eye of some people in TCU’s Office of Strategic Communications.  They decided to include a photo of me and a blurb on my work in a big ad for the university in an upcoming issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education (see left).  They also created a profile on me as part of a campus-wide marketing campaign titled “Doers, Dreamers, and Trailblazers.”  It’s all a little strange but also flattering and encouraging.  Overall, I’m glad that TCU values the work I’m doing and wants to share it with the world!  Check out my profile here.

Civil Rights Bus Tour Featured on TCU360

Civil Rights Bus Tour Featured on TCU360

By Mercedes Ynocencio // Posted April 21, 2014

For the first time, the TCU Civil Rights Bus Tour will be offered for class credit.

Students will learn about race, racism and other forms of oppression that still exist today this May during the summer session led by TCU history professor Max Krochmal. The bus tour will take students to visit different civil rights landmarks and students will also be able to talk to people who were involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Krochmal said the course focuses largely on how these activists were normal college students at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, and that they were able to make a difference.

The tour also allows students to learn about social change and social justice with a different approach.

“Because we do have such a strong emphasis on how students can make a difference, I think it really has a profound impact on people,” Krochmal said.

Krochmal said the class will last three weeks and with each week focusing on another element of the course.

The first week will be spent learning the basics of the Civil Rights Movement and preparing for the trip. The second week will be the bus tour, and the third week will be spent reflecting on the trip, he said. The class has no final exam, Krochmal said.

The bus tour lasts six days, spanning though historical civil rights landmarks throughout Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, he said.

Instead, students will form groups and present on another movement of interest in history or in another part of the world, or present a plan for change that they think is important, he said.

“We look at the past to learn about the present and to help the students change the future,” Krochmal said.

In the past, the bus tour was conducted over winter break as an extracurricular activity, he said.

The class is open to any major or classification, and counts for CORE credit as Social Science (SSC), and Historical Traditions (HT) or Citizenship and Social Values (CSV).

Joe Vera, a sophomore political science major, said he is planning on enrolling in the course. He became interested after reading a book about the Civil Rights Movement.

“What got me excited about this tour is getting the hands on portion of the class,” he said. “It’s not just sitting in a classroom, we would get to physically see things.”

“JFK, Dallas, and the Struggle for Civil Rights” Lesson Plans and Video from the Sixth Floor Museum

This past summer, I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at a teacher institute at the Sixth Floor Museum about the Viva Kennedy campaign and the Mexican American civil rights movement in Texas.  The teachers spent a whole week learning about the larger relationship between JFK, Dallas, and the struggle for civil rights.  Each afternoon, the teachers prepared lesson plans on specific subjects, including one for elementary school students on “Hispanic Americans,” inspired by my talk.  Check out all of the lesson plans here on the museum’s website, and watch this very slick summary video (it gets good around 2:30 haha):

Dallas Morning News Op-Ed & Response

My August 12 op-ed in the Dallas Morning News is copied below.  You can see the online comments here.  I was also the subject of this amazing letter to the editor.  As TCU’s Provost is fond of saying, we are all fighting a war against ignorance.

Grass-roots rumblings go much deeper than Trayvon Martin response

Chuck Liddy/AP
Protesters head for the North Carolina legixlative complex during a July Moral Mondays rally.

By Max Krochmal

Published: 11 August 2013 10:08 PM

Updated: 11 August 2013 10:13 PM

For the last two years, I have traveled around the South with my TCU students on a civil rights bus tour. In addition to visiting memorials and museums, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to dozens of civil rights activists, the unsung heroes and heroines of the local freedom movements that helped cripple the system of Jim Crow.

But the journey doesn’t always reflect triumph and progress. “The movement isn’t over” is a frequent refrain from the activists. They say that many of the hard-won gains are rapidly being reversed, citing the rise of voter ID bills and other restrictions. And they invariably conclude their remarks by telling the students that it’s their turn to pick up the torch and carry the struggle forward.

Many of my students and others around the country are now answering that call, mobilizing in huge numbers in support of Trayvon Martin, participating in voter registration drives, and, in North Carolina, joining the “Moral Mondays” crusade that is sweeping the state. The killing of Martin has struck a chord in black America, reminding African-Americans of a long history of violence based on racial stereotypes and the ongoing deferral of justice in the country’s police departments and legal system.

The mobilizations around the Martin case represent just the tip of a much larger iceberg. Ordinary people, young and old, are coming together to confront the many problems facing African-Americans, Latinos and Latinas, women, sexual minorities, working people, immigrants and the poor. Just as the Arab Spring exploded onto the scene and spread across the Middle East and North Africa, the United States may now be witnessing the florescence of a new wave of democratic social movements.

History suggests that social movements occur when a large number of ordinary people come to believe that they are capable of changing the world around them. Participants must individually achieve a heightened level of political self-respect — they must recognize that they cannot wait for other people to do things for them and, instead, decide that they themselves are the agent of change. The most successful social movements are the ones in which people do this collectively, through a process of trial and error, taking time at each step along the way to analyze, reflect upon, and learn from their actions as well as the larger society’s reactions.

For example, the early leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the key civil rights movement organization on the ground, were but a group of ordinary, mostly first-generation, black college students, who came together on campuses across the South to discuss the indignities of Jim Crow and the need to take action. Each local group launched uncoordinated sit-ins at lunch counters and department stores throughout the region.

What made them the shock troops of a powerful movement was the fact that once they gathered and learned from one another, they organized a new wave of coordinated direct action protests, voter registration drives and educational initiatives aimed at empowering local people and multiplying the movement’s leadership.

Today in North Carolina, leaders of the state NAACP are building upon years of grass-roots coalition-building to launch Moral Mondays, a diverse movement aimed at halting the reversal of many hard-won gains. Their weekly rallies and acts of civil disobedience are drawing attention to the state legislature’s aggressive efforts to restrict the right to vote. They are also fighting against cuts to the state’s renowned public education system, unemployment benefits, and even abortion rights.

The commemoration and re-enactment of the March on Washington later this month will be anything but an exercise in nostalgia. Participants would do well to remember some of the forgotten lessons of the march that took place 50 years ago:

First, the 1963 demonstration was titled the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” a name that indicated that its agenda included not only equal rights but economic justice issues.

Second, protesters might wish to recall the words of U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who reminded the marchers that it would be up to them — to ordinary people — to produce the change they wanted to see and that they couldn’t wait on the government to take action for them. Those words, while muttered in the ’60s, couldn’t ring truer today.

Max Krochmal is an assistant professor of history at Texas Christian University and may be contacted at

Texas Communities Oral History Project Class Featured in TCU Magazine

Click here for the original TCU Magazine article

Living history

Recording the memories of Fort Worth activists who fought for equal treatment of women and minorities was a life-changing experience for history professor Max Krochmal’s students.

by Kathryn Hopper

Updated: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Opal Lee remembers when casting a ballot in Fort Worth meant standing in line for hours and paying a poll tax of $1.75, a lot of money for a family with four kids back in the 1950s.

“It was the hardest $1.75 to give up, you know, and I waited until the last minute to pay it,” she says. “But I did it so I could vote.”
In 1964, the United States ratified the 24th Amendment to the Constitution to prohibit poll taxes in federal elections and the growing Civil Rights movement was slowly changing the segregated South. Fort Worth was changing too, as Jim Crow laws broke down and blacks were allowed to eat, shop and attend movies alongside white patrons.

Today, the generation of activists who led the Civil Rights movement are in their 70s and older, and while their memories of those turbulent times are still vivid, they aren’t always recorded.

Thanks to Max Krochmal, assistant professor of history, and students involved in his Texas Communities Oral History Project, these moments from times past are being collected and preserved. Students in two of his classes researched then recorded interviews of activists of three major movements of the 20th century — the Civil Rights movement, the fight for Women’s Rights and Mexicano activism.

The class grew out of Krochmal’s own love of oral history and his research on the Civil Rights movement in Texas — and how it was intertwined with other movements of the time.

“I hadn’t studied Fort Worth very much so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn more with my students,” he says.

Students divided into three groups for each of the movements, then began conducting research, including going off campus to interview activists and record their stories.

In May, students presented their research — which includes websites with highlights from their videotaped interviews — to the TCU and Fort Worth communities.

“TCU really does value innovation in terms of teaching and research and this is great because it combines those,” Krochmal says. “It’s an undergraduate research opportunity, it’s service learning and community engagement, which are all things TCU supports that many faculty members are trying to do.

Photo “But I think that the opportunity for undergraduates to engage in it at this level, with much expected of them, much autonomy, and when they are really acting as the primary agents, doing the research, I think that’s pretty unique.”

Reinaldo (Renny) Rosas ’78, was thankful to Krochmal for seeing the importance of recording the history of the area’s Hispanic community.

“One of the things we’re very much lacking in our community is the documentation of our history and participation in the growth and development of Fort Worth,” he says. “We appreciate what Max and his class are doing to help with that. I hope they can keep it going and do more of it.”

Miles Davison, a senior sociology major from St. Paul, Minn., says he might never have really gotten out into the Fort Worth community if not for the class.

“Communities are shaped by the people who went before us, and in this class, we got to go out and actually experience that first hand,” he says. “I got to meet invaluable people and learn their stories, so this class broadened my scope and my experience at TCU.”

Caleigh Prewitt, a junior Spanish and Latin major, says the experience was inspiring.

“Learning about activism and talking to people who actually made it happen really made me confident that every person has a leader inside them and everyone can change something in their community if they just have the skills,” she says.

For Wynton Brown ’13 the class also brought together the ways each of the three movements were interconnected.

“The project itself tied all the groups together. It was like a tree with roots going every which way,” she says. “Everybody had to be involved and learn to be activists, it wasn’t like they were born activists, they had to learn how to be activists and learn how to fight for themselves.”

Photo She also appreciated how their interview subjects opened their hearts and freely expressed their feelings.

“You can read a book, but when you’re looking into somebody’s face and they’re telling their story, it’s a little different, you see the tears and the struggles and you know deep down inside that you weren’t there, but they were, and that tree with the roots on it is still growing,” she says. “It’s growing through us now and we’re going to pass it along.”

About the project:
The Texas Communities Oral History project seeks to recover, preserve and make openly accessible the history of racial, ethnic, gender and economic groups traditionally underrepresented in historical archives. The project is currently seeking funding for a collection of at least 300 new life history interviews and the creation of a public history website. To make a donation, volunteer to participate or simply learn more, contact Max Krochmal at or

Related story:
Voices from the past – snippets from interviews from the Texas Communities Oral History project

See the projects:
Civil rights —
Mexicano activism —

TX-COHP Student Websites Go Live!

Uncovering the Movement: An Exploration of Civil Rights in Fort Worth

¡Viva La Raza! – Documenting Tarrant County’s Mexicano Activism

Women, Leaders, and Social Change in Fort Worth


This semester, I taught a pair of undergraduate courses on oral history and urban community activism.   Together, the courses represented a sort of pilot program for the larger Texas Communities Oral History Project, an effort to collect, preserve, and make publicly accessible in digital form the histories of the state’s African Americans, Mexican Americans, trade unionists, working people, women, and other marginalized groups. 

Students in the course spent the semester learning about social change by going off-campus to talk to local community activists.  In the last part of the course, they created websites to showcase their findings, including clips from the interviews as well as short interpretive essays.  Last night, on May 2, 2013, the students presented their sites at a community dinner in which many of the projects’ narrators and other community members came to TCU’s campus to hear the presentations and participate in a discussion and Q&A.  A flyer for the event is included below.

Videos and other links related to the presentations will be available soon, but the site have already gone live.  Check them out now:

Uncovering the Movement: An Exploration of Civil Rights in Fort Worth

¡Viva La Raza! – Documenting Tarrant County’s Mexicano Activism

Women, Leaders, and Social Change in Fort Worth

NTX Activist Email

Mario T. Garcia Obituary for Sal Castro

Originally published on the Huffington Post

Sal Castro and Chicano Educational Justice

Mario T. Garcia

Professor of Chicana/o studies, University of California Santa

Posted: 04/17/2013 4:49 pm

April 15 was a sad day with the horrible bombing at the Boston Marathon. It was also a sad day for me due to the death of Sal Castro. Sal was a major figure in Chicano history.

As a public school teacher in the East Los Angeles schools, in March of 1968 Sal inspired his students to participate in a historic student walkout of the schools that came to be known as the “blowouts.” The students were protesting a legacy of racial segregation and discrimination against Mexican American students in the public school system — not only in Los Angeles, but throughout the Southwest, where the majority of Mexican-descent people lived.

In the early twentieth-century, these schools were referred to as “Mexican schools.” They were segregated public schools for Mexican American children. They were inferior schools characterized by limited education aimed at teaching students to work with their hands rather than their minds, fewer grades than the white or Anglo schools, low expectations by teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and lack of books, etc. Despite efforts by Mexican Americans to change these conditions over the years, the legacy of the Mexican schools was alive and well in the East L.A. schools in 1968.

As one of the few Mexican American or Chicano teachers in these schools, Castro knew and opposed such conditions. He also came to understand that only a dramatic action would pressure the educational establishment to do something about them. But more importantly, he knew that only the students could do this — by first recognizing that they were not the problem, the schools were the problem.

Castro worked with students to develop a critical consciousness that further recognized that the schools as constituted were not there to help them but instead to limit their opportunities so that they could be recycled as cheap labor, like their parents. Castro believed that the development of this critical consciousness represented real education, as opposed to the regimented “schooling” that the students received that only intended to produce submissive citizens who would not question the inequalities in the American system.

Armed with this more critical consciousness and inspired by Castro’s leadership, the students went on strike in what may be the largest high school student strike in American history. Some 20,000 students walked out of 15 schools in the first week of March 1968 in the “blowouts.” Their strike eventually led to various reforms, although even today education in inner city schools leaves much to be desired.

But what the walkouts really changed was the consciousness of the students. They recognized that it was within their power to produce social change. No one else could do it but themselves. They empowered themselves by their actions and Sal Castro was largely responsible for this.

The blowouts were a seminal moment in the history of the Chicano Movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, the largest and most widespread Mexican American civil rights and empowerment movement in U.S. history. The Movement made Chicanos and other Latinos into major national political actors for the first time, and we are seeing the fruits of that movement today in the rise of Latino political power.

Sal Castro paid a price for his leadership and courage by putting his own career on the line for his students. He and 12 others were arrested after the blowouts and became known as the “East L.A. 13.” They were indicted on conspiracy charges and if convicted might have served over 50 years in jail. After a two-year legal battle, Sal and the others were cleared of all charges. The blowouts, a court ruled, constituted an expression of First Amendment rights. Sal continued to be harassed by school officials, but he persisted in dedicating himself to teaching for the next three decades until his retirement.

I was privileged and honored to write Sal Castro’s life story in my 2011 book Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice (University of North Carolina Press). We worked for over 10 years on this project and I conducted some 50 hours of taped interviews with Sal. It was a pleasure and a learning experience to have spent so much time with him and listen to his stories.

Sal had a great sense of humor, and he used humor to educate. But he could also get very serious when he talked about the courage of his “kids” who engaged in the blowouts — the blowout generation. When the book came out, we visited many campuses and bookstores and had a wonderful time together. I represented the “teaser” opening, and then Sal did his thing and had the audience in the palm of his hand.

Sal also spoke in many of my classes at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and many students over the last ten years and more had the opportunity to meet him and, when the book came out, to read about his story growing up in L.A.: going to both public and Catholic schools, being in the military, returning to go to college, his early teaching career, his involvement in the blowouts, the repercussions he faced, and then his many more years as a devoted teacher. I believe my students were as inspired by Sal as I was.

He was the epitome of what it means to be a teacher, and we surely today need teachers such as Sal. But he is also someone who made history — American history — and he needs to be recognized as a major figure in American educational and civil rights history.

One of the last questions I had for Sal for the book was, “How do you want to be remembered?” He simply said: “I would like my tombstone to read: ‘Sal Castro — A Teacher.'”

Enroll Now in “The African American Experience” this June!

Learn African American history this summer in the June session at TCU!  This five-week course is a comprehensive survey of African Americans in the United States from 1619 to 2012, including the slave trade, slavery and resistance, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the age of Jim Crow, the Great Migration, black radicalism, the long struggle for civil rights and freedom, and the status of African Americans today.  Students will learn history by doing it hands-on through a series of lab experiments using original primary sources.  CA or HT credit.AFAM flyer image

We will read three (inexpensive) books: The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations by Ira Berlin, We Ain’t What We Ought to Be: The Black Freedom Struggle from Emancipation to Obama by Stephen Tuck, and Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by Hon. John Lewis.

Assignments include:

  • Periodic quizzes on the reading
  • Four “History Lab Reports” in which students do “experiments” using sets of original historical sources – the Atlantic Slave Trade Database, the Freedom Papers Project (on emancipation and Reconstruction), oral history interviews from Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South (on iTunes U), and the papers of the most important civil rights movement organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
  • A final presentation
  • No tests and no final exam!

Grades will be based on these assignments as well as attendance, effort, and class participation.

About the instructor: Dr. Max Krochmal teaches and does research on African American history, U.S. Latino/a history, labor, and comparative social movements and ethnic studies.  A former labor and community organizer, he earned his B.A. at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and both his M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, where he studied with the leading civil rights historians in America.  He is the faculty leader of the TCU Civil Rights Bus Tour and a passionate advocate for social justice in the community.  He is working on a book about the history of black/brown/white coalition-building and the multiracial civil rights movement in Texas.  For more information, visit his website,

Questions?  Email Dr. Max at or call 919-564-9129

Community History Workshop February 2

Oral History, Black History, and Democracy in America

February is Black History Month.  Join us to learn from TCU assistant professor of history Max Krochmal how oral history projects began and their contributions to the history of the South and U.S. race relations.  Krochmal will explore forgotten themes in the history of Fort Worth’ black community and introduce the Texas Communities Oral History Project, a program that aims to preserve the history of the civil rights movement in Fort Worth.

Saturday, February 2, 10:30 a.m. – Noon, Fort Worth Central Library, Tandy Lecture Hall.

Community History Workshop Series: Preserving Our Past

Presented in conjuction with The Center for Texas Studies at TCU, these workshops are aimed at increasing the historical awareness of the community.  The series is designed to make the public aware of the important, yet often overlooked historical resources around them, and how to preserve them for posterity. The goal of the workshops is to prove that “every person is a historian,” and that they can, by their deeds and actions, preserve a small part of the cultural and historical fabric of this region.