Every wondered how Latino politics developed one of the Midwest’s smaller communities?
Janet Weaver’s article on Mexican American activism in Davenport, Iowa, is a gem.
She interviewed activists who were involved in the United Farm Workers’ boycott committee in the late sixties and early seventies and traced their political development back to the 1940s and 1950s.
Not surprisingly, she found that a number of key leaders had been involved in CIO-affiliated unions and that the UFW militancy harkened back to the glory days of industrial unionism.
The activists had also been active in a variety of civil rights and political organizations. These included the GI Forum and LULAC, social justice groups associated with the Catholic Church, Viva Kennedy, and the Midwest Council of La Raza. They also lobbied state legislatures on behalf of migrant farm workers.
Henry Vargas served on the first Davenport Human Relations Committee, and John Terronez was the first Mexican American appointee on the Iowa State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Here is the author-provided link to her article, “From Barrio to ‘Boicoteo!’: The Emergence of Mexican American Activism in Davenport, 1917–1970,” in The Annals of Iowa 68 (Summer 2009).