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Tejano Diaspora

Mexican Americanism and Ethnic Politics in Texas and Wisconsin

Marc Simon Rodriguez

Publication Year: 2011

This book takes a closer look at the events that took place in Crystal City, Texas, in the 1960s and 70s. In 1965, The Mexican American residents of the city elected five men to the city council and thereby won control of city government. The candidates, soon dubbed Los Cinco, were thwarted in their attempts to lead, partly due to Anglo-American resistance and partly due to their own lack of education and political experience. Four years later, Crystal City was ignited by Mexican American school protests and third party electoral politics under the banner of La Raza Unida Party. The city became a beacon for radical Chicano politics, and yet Rodriguez argues that historians have not paid enough attention to the complex relationship between interstate migration and politics in this working class community. His book examines how the political movements operated at both ends of the labor network that spanned between Texas and Wisconsin. Rodriguez uses the Crystal City story to unite the efforts of young people, activists, and politicians across the migrant stream. In the process, the work explores emergent ethnic identity, discovers an overlooked youth movement, and interrogates the meanings of American citizenship.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xvi

Much like the activists in this book, I grew up traveling by automobile between Wisconsin and Texas. My parents were witnesses to the activism of this era and participants in some of the main strands of social activism of the late 1960s. As the family of a former migrant worker, each December we would pack up my father’s pickup truck and head...

Abbreviations in the Text

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pp. xvii-xviii

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pp. 1-14

In 1963, Crystal City, Texas, shot onto the national scene when a group of five Mexican Americans dubbed “Los Cinco” swept all seats on the common council. This “revolt” made its way onto the front pages of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and...

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1 Post–World War II Mexican Americanism in Crystal City, Texas

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pp. 15-37

In early 2003, the Zavala County Sentinel ran a newly discovered photo of nearly a dozen uniformed service men and women posing in downtown Crystal City. The image captured the high level of World War II military participation among Mexican Americans in this small South...

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2 Inclusion and Mexican Americanism: High School Acculturation and Ethnic Politics in Crystal City

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pp. 38-59

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, mainstream public school systems of the Southwest became increasingly open to Mexican American students. A variety of changes, including statewide public school reform and a shift in attitudes among some parents, brought large numbers of...

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3 Activism across the Diaspora: The Tejano Farmworker Movement in Wisconsin

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pp. 60-97

On August 15, 1966, twenty- two- year- old Jesus Salas, a college student and the son of a migrant contractor and restaurant owner from Crystal City, Texas, organized a “March on Madison” to bring attention to the problems of Wisconsin’s migrant farmworkers. This was the third...

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4 Making a Migrant Village in the City: Tejanos and the War on Poverty in Milwaukee

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pp. 98-125

On November 25, 1968, a large group of “concerned south- side citizens” packed the Milwaukee o∞ces of United Migrant Opportunity Services, Inc. (UMOS), a social service agency established under the auspices of the O∞ce of Economic Opportunity (OEO), to protest the...

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5 Circular Activist Flows and the Rise of La Raza Unida Party in Texas

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pp. 126-153

As Mexican American and U.S. Latino activism became national in scope in the late 1960s, a variety of movements emerged from within the Mexican- ancestry community and the urban trans- Latino communities of the Midwest. As it had in the past, the migrant stream linking...

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Conclusion: Of Diaspora, Political Economy, and the Politics of Mexican America

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pp. 154-160

Looking down the main street of Crystal City in the early twenty- first century, there is little sign that this was a center of radical politics or even that it was the economic center of the Winter Garden District. Many of the storefronts are empty or occupied by marginal businesses...


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pp. 161-204


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pp. 205-228


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pp. 229-238

E-ISBN-13: 9781469603254
E-ISBN-10: 146960325X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834640
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834645

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011