Ethnic Americanism: The American GI Forum and Early Activism in Crystal City, Texas

Sunday, January 10, 2010: 11:40 AM
Manchester Ballroom B (Hyatt)
Marc S. Rodriguez , University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN
This paper reframes the development of post-WWII political activism in Crystal City, Texas, one of the primary sites of post 1960 Mexican American and Chicano Movement activism. Most studies of begin with the development of militant activism in 1963 and the emergence of Chicano politics after 1969 as the city became a central location in the national development of Mexican-American political activism. Few studies have considered events prior to 1963, and of these even fewer have considered the role of activism in this community after World War II.

By incorporating new primary source materials this paper expands the timeline of activism to consider the role of the American GI Forum (AGIF) in the 1950s and 1960s in this rural yet urbanized community. More than whiteness or a middle class bias characterized the activities of what was a pragmatic and unstable grass roots effort led by a small and mainly working-class and mobility seeking group of veterans who struggled to make a living and improve conditions for fellow Mexican Americans in.