3pm to 5pm
The Division Street Riots of 1966: Rage and Euphoria in Puerto Rican Chicago
Michael Staudenmaier, University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
Only limited scholarly attention has been paid to the 1966 Division Street Riots, despite a general consensus that they marked a crucial turning point in the development of Chicago’s Puerto Rican community. My paper focuses on the perspective of Puerto Ricans who participated in and observed the riots, emphasizing the interplay between anger at racist police and a cultural pride in Puerto Rican identity. I draw upon previously unused archives and contemporaneous press reports to paint a picture of a community in transition away from assimilation and toward a resurgent nationalist politics.
The Nature of Victories: the United Farm Workers’ 1969 Coachella Campaign and its Promise of a New America
Christian Paiz, University of Southern California
Four years into the Delano Grape Strike, United Farm Worker (UFW) Movement expanded its campaign to include Southern California’s Coachella Valley, a small desert region that produced the state’s earliest table grape harvest. According to UFW leaders, the 1969 Coachella grape strike reflected local farmworkers’ efforts to claim their American citizenship-based rights. In their union struggle, Coachella farmworkers advanced the nation’s liberal egalitarianism and undermined the remaining vestiges of undemocratic social relations. In boycotting grapes, in turn, the UFW argued that American consumers helped their fellow countrymen fight for their country. This language, however, was not reflected in or spoken by the pro-UFW farmworkers in the Coachella Valley. For them, the union represented a variety of potential projects and futures, none of which were entirely contained by the nation’s boundaries. This difference of languages contributed to and reflected the union’s limited organizational capacity and their difficulties in mobilizing the local farm-working population under the union’s Americanist discourses. Most critically, the language of American citizenship overlooked the significant mis-recognition and historical differences between the Coachella Valley’s Mexican and Filipino farmworkers. And within these mis-recognitions and differences, the union’s future viability remained in question.
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