Cecilia Marquez, University of Virginia and Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Borderlands and Latino/a Studies Seminar
Friday, March 15, 2013

3 pm to 5 pm

“Black, White, and Tan: The Expulsion of Mexicans from SNCC and the Formation of a Black Third World Left”
Cecilia Marquez
, University of Virginia

This paper examines the role of Mexican-Americans in SNCC and their attempts to forge a truly “third-world” alliance with domestic and international third world struggles. While nominally in line with SNCC’s commitment to third world liberation, Mexican-American activists in SNCC faced frequent push back and little institutional support. SNCC’s effort to engage with Latin America and the UFW struggles in California were undermined by its inability to move beyond the black/white dichotomy central to U.S. racial paradigms. This narrow racial paradigm coupled with the shift towards a black cultural nationalism meant that SNCC was unable to maintain or expand any relationships with third world liberation movements. I argue that SNCC bought into a racially binaristic ideology that limited its inability to imagine a world outside of the strict black/white racial order, a fact that would curtail the organization’s efforts to form a true third world left.

“Puerto Rican Nationalism, the Communist Party, and the U.S. Government during the Cold War: The Challenges of ‘Domestic’ Decolonization”
Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology

In the 1950s, at the height of the cold war, the pro-independence Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico launched three attacks against U.S. colonialism: on the island, at Blair House in Washington, D.C., and in the U.S. Congress. This paper explores the Nationalist Party’s goals and actions, the U.S. government’s reaction to them, and the Communist Party USA’s relationship to the Nationalists. The U.S. government hoped to elide the issue of colonialism by linking the Nationalist Party to Communism. The Communist Party, then confronting the McCarthy hearings, had no desire to be openly connected to a party that attacked the president of the United States and opened fire on the U.S. Congress.

Commentator: Shana Bernstein, Southwestern University

Cost and registration information: 

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.