An analysis of the May 1991 Mount Pleasant riots provides important insights into how recent Salvadoran immigration reshaped the nation’s capital, affected black-Latino race relations in a majority black city, and revealed the connection between U.S. foreign and domestic policy and the marginalization and exploitation of Salvadoran immigrants (whose migration experiences and lives were shaped by the twelve-year civil war in El Salvador from 1979-1992). It also sheds light on the transnational ties that played a significant role in shaping Salvadoran immigrants’ lives as well as the communities in which they lived. Moreover, an examination of the riot’s aftermath reveals the tensions between the distinct experiences of Salvadoran immigrants on the one hand, and the formation of a pan-Latino identity and political consciousness on the other. This paper will examine these issues in addition to describing the May 1991 Mount Pleasant riots, its underlying causes and lasting effects, and the responses of various groups within the community.
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