The Kansas City Westside: Home of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

  • Theresa L. Torres


This chapter depicts the history of the Mexican and Mexican American experience on the Westside of Kansas City, particularly the progressive nature of both ethnic identity and the patterns of change, negotiation, accommodation, response, and resistance within this community. We will see that the Kansas City Westside community of Mexicans and Mexican Americans actively dealt with the difficulties they encountered due to immigrant status, poverty, exploitation, and discrimination by fostering mutual solidarity among families, friends, and neighbors over generations. This chapter also addresses the role of leadership developed in the face of external discrimination and exploitation. In that regard, the chapter does not focus specifically on the Guadalupanas, (their leadership as a group is described in chapter two), but instead addresses the significant socio-historical context that was the foundation for the development of Mexican American leadership in the Kansas City Westside. Through the creation of organizations, supportive networks, and the strength of their religious and cultural heritage, as shown in various institutions in the Westside neighborhood, this community has uniquely demonstrated strong leadership.


Ethnic Identity Kansas City Mexican Immigrant Catholic School Mexican American Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See Leo Grebler, Joan W. Moore, and Ralph C. Guzman, The Mexican-American People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority (New York: The Free Press, 1970);Google Scholar
  2. Edward J. Casavantes, A New Look at the Attributes of the Mexican American (Albuquerque: Southwest Cooperative Education Laboratory, 1969)Google Scholar
  3. and Sister Mary John Murray, “A Socio-Cultural Study of 118 Mexican Families Living in a Low Rent Public Housing Project in San Antonio, Texas,” The Catholic University of America Studies in Sociology, XXXVIII (Washington, DC, 1954).Google Scholar
  4. For an analysis of various approaches to assimilation and colonialism in the study of Mexican Americans, see Edward Murguía, Assimilation, Colonialism and the Mexican American People (Austin: Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1975; reprint, Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1989).Google Scholar
  5. An early exception to the assimilationist model was Manuel Gamio, Mexican Immigration to the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1930; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1969). Gamio’s study depicted the difficulties facing assimilation of Mexican immigrants to the United States way of life through his explanation of exploitation, discrimination, and poverty barriers.Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People (Boston: Little, Brown, 1951), 3.Google Scholar
  7. Like Handlin, other scholars of European immigrant history also use an assimilationist model. See Will Herberg, Protestant-Catholic-Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (1955: revised, Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1960);Google Scholar
  8. Harry Stout, “Ethnicity: the Vital Center of Religion in America,” Ethnicity 2 (1975): 204–224;Google Scholar
  9. Dean Hoge, “Interpreting Change in American Catholics: The River and the Floodgate,” Review of Religious Research 27 (June 1986), 289–300;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. and Philip Gleason, “Immigrant Assimilation and the Crisis of Americanization,” in his Keeping the Faith: American Catholicism Past and Present (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), 58–81.Google Scholar
  11. 3.
    Dennis N. Valdés, “Region, Nation, and World-system: Perspectives on Midwestern Chicana/o History,” in Voices of a New Chicana/o History, ed. Refugio I. Rochín and Dennis N. Valdés (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000), 115–40.Google Scholar
  12. 4.
    Valdés, 115–40. For examples of current histories on Latina/os in the Midwest see the following: Gabriela F. Arredondo, Mexican Chicago: Race, Identity, and Nation, 1916–1939 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008);Google Scholar
  13. Gilbert Cardenas, “Mexican Migration to the Midwest” in The Chicano Experience, ed. Stanley A. West and June Macklin (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1979), 33–61;Google Scholar
  14. James B. Lane and Edward J. Escobar, Forging a Community: the Latino Experience in Northwest Indiana,1919–1975 (Chicago: Cattails Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  15. Ann V. Millard and Jorge Chapa, Apple Pie and Enchiladas: New Comers in the Rural Midwest (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2004);Google Scholar
  16. Leonard G. Ramírez, Chicanas of 18th Street: Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011);Google Scholar
  17. Dennis Nodin Valdés, Al Norte: Agricultrual Workers in the Great Lakes Region, 1917–1970 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1991);Google Scholar
  18. Dennis Nodin Valdés, Barrios Norteños: St. Paul and Midwestern Mexican Communities in the Twentieth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000);Google Scholar
  19. Zaragosa Vargas, Proletarians of the North: A History of Mexican Industrial Workers in Detroit and the Midwest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993);Google Scholar
  20. and Victor Zúñiga and Rubén Hernández-León, New destinations: Mexican immigration in the United States (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2005).Google Scholar
  21. 5.
    Juan R. García, Mexicans in the Midwest 1900–1932 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996), vii.Google Scholar
  22. 6.
    George J. Sánchez, Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 11–12.Google Scholar
  23. 7.
    Timothy Matovina, Tejano Religion and Ethnicity: San Antonio, 1821–1860 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  24. 9.
    Robert Oppenheimer, “Acculturation or Assimilation: Mexican Immigrants in Kansas, 1900 to World War II,” Western Historical Quarterly (October 1985), 431. Unless noted otherwise, Kansas City refers to the twin cities of Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. These two cities were a major transportation link to the westward movements through the Santa Fe trail of the nineteenth century and major crossroads for the following railroads: Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe (Santa Fe); Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific (Rock Island); St. Louis and San Francisco (Frisco); Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy (Burlington); and Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy). See Michael Smith, “Mexicans in Kansas City: The First Generation, 1900–1920,” in Mexicans in the Midwest, eds. Juan García, Ignacio M. García, and Thomas Gelison (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, 1989), 31. The term Mexican refers to first generation immigrants and Mexican American refers to descendants of Mexicans born in the United States.Google Scholar
  25. 10.
    Judith Ann Fincher Laird, “Argentine, Kansas: The Evolution of a Mexican-American Community, 1905–1940” (Ph.D. diss., University of Kansas, 1975), 28.Google Scholar
  26. 11.
    Juan R. García, Mexicans in the Midwest1900–1932 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1966), 5–6.Google Scholar
  27. 32.
    David Weber, “‘Scarce More than Apes: Historical Roots of Anglo-American Stereotypes of Mexicans in the Border Region,” in Myth and the History of the Hispanic Southwest (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988.) See also Smith, 39.Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez, Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995), 54, 58.Google Scholar
  29. 40.
    Manuel G. Gonzales, Mexicanos: A History of the Mexicans in the United States (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999), 148.Google Scholar
  30. 51.
    Valerie Mendoza, “The Creation of a Mexican Immigrant Community in Kansas City, 1890–1930” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1997), 130.Google Scholar
  31. 53.
    Louise Año Nuevo Kerr, “Mexican Chicago: Chicano Assimilation Aborted, 1939–1954,” in Ethnic Chicago 3rd ed. rev. and enl., eds. Melvin G. Holli and Peter d’A. Jones (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing CO, 1984), 270, 272.Google Scholar
  32. 54.
    Paul Ming-Chang Lin, “Voluntary Kinship and Voluntary Associations in a Mexican-American Community” (MA thesis, University of Kansas), 1963, 57. See map of parish boundaries established in 1959 on page 107. Taken from KCSJCDA, OLGPF. The document states the following boundaries: “Begin 17th Street at State Line, south to 25th Street (south side), east to Southwest Boulevard (east side), to 23rd Street (south side), to Broadway to 22nd Street (south side), to Baltimore (east side), to 20th Street (south side), to Grand (west side), to 18th street, to Southwest Trafficway, to 17th Street to the beginning. Approved by decree dated February 18, 1959, Feast of Saint Simeon, John P. Cody, Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Joseph V. Sullivan, Chancellor.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Theresa L. Torres 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theresa L. Torres

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations