My name is Fermin Esquibel, and I am of Mexican descent. I was born in Kingman. I attended school at St. Mary’s Catholic School for eight years and then on to Mohave County Union High for four years.
In high school, if you played sports and were good at it, the townspeople thought you were all right. For others of my nationality, not so good.
The town had a club for boys and girls that we were not allowed to join. I recall that my dad, Frank Esquibel, a well-known manager of the Central Commercial Lumber Co., also had restrictions.
Mexican people could not work at the fire department. They also could not join the Elks, Moose, and American Legion. There are facts the mayor knows nothing about such as the signs posted at each end of town which told that black people were not welcome to stay in town after sunset.
People, there are only four races:
White (we Mexicans are white)
African-Americans are black.
Indians (Americans) are red.
Asians are yellow.
The people of Kingman and surrounding areas were and are still prejudiced.
The town did not change toward minorities, that I can remember, until the Duval Mine opened in 1964, at which time a certain percentage of minorities needed to be hired due to federal hiring laws. That is when Kingman started to change.
My personal experience of prejudice was when I requested that a Little League field be dedicated as the Frank Esquibel Little League Park, as he was one of the founding fathers and continued at it for 42 years.
At the recreation commission meeting with my request for recognition of my father’s community work, I was denied with the statement, “It would not be a memorial park.”
In looking around this town, I find there are areas, parks, schools, and recreation areas dedicated as memorials for deceased townspeople. These were people who deserved recognition. However, my father was one of those people, yet his memory was refused recognition by City officials.
Prejudice is alive and well in Kingman, Arizona.