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tv   Blue Texas  CSPAN  January 29, 2017 11:00pm-12:02am EST

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. >> and i am glad you could join please be sure to silence your cellphone if you have not already also if you would like to take a picture please nature -- a major the flashes turned off i will be with the microphone to get your question with c-span that way the camera will pick up what you say. we host over 300 events every year free and open to the of public and made possible by our patrons. thinks for purchasing your
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books here. we have max krochmal bluet is currently an assistant professor contributing to the development of tcu programs and ethnic studies let's give them a warm welcome. [applause] >> thanks for having me. it is a great to be here with all of you. and thanks to all of you for being here today and co-sponsor the talks and all friends and family.
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i will talk 30 or 40 minutes and then time at the end. >> so it all began with the election. as the results came in relearned rather that read the state but pulling with new not a handed the lesson votes and there is quite a bit of four to be and of
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those wage and struggling for of brahe democracy but to have a state by the alliance of the civil rights agenda. but they called for labor rights or economic justice her new port near ship at this moment if they would look back and what we might find but then to focus of
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tempering it is message and then to suggest then to push us in in in that he and that is the expense but there were a smoker and but then
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to meet their own needs the organizers approached those like minded activists out of desperation. with each needy help of their own ethnic groups and over time be interracial media across town. then finally to take action. coming together did not assume one agenda over an hour -- and other pet they work together despite common cause. coalition building remained a process so this does not suggest the african-americans or
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mexicans were natural allies but they were simply different of course, the structured necessitated that with different the dos and priorities and cultures and spoke different languages. when they worked together they first had to see even where to hold a meeting with a series of compromises and the and, apart. and to take place of the human relationships among the activists and it was not rhetoric through history of oppression but the years of struggling side by side that working unity is better than talking unity the coalition
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would succeed because it would transcend racial difference to prioritize the most will burble and did not treat all members as individuals that some people are proposing that we do know. to a low for discord and disagreement with fair representation for the more militant the tactics i show in many cases we collect many groups into one. but they had to be constructed and rife with conflicts we would it not sad expect all white people
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to act in the same way and the driver is there was conflict between different communities. the most militant of liberals would clash with the interracial conflict across the color line after countless flareups they will separate themselves from their race leader's and that would lead matter with as much as race and ethnicity and the political liberalism the african-american and mexican-american all rallied around those democracies in texas they would aim to
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overthrow that oligarchy they thought they fought by working together alkylation carried out in immobilization with direct action that brought some semblance of those that have restricted the black and brown votes the white liberal allies break down the doors of the democratic party. they would overthrow jim crow with the degree of justice empower at the same time eliminating how much power they could wield and a blueprint for how to do it.
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to get upholsterer you need the zero broke. [laughter] but -- the whole book but this was interwoven of the different lakes of the coalition african-american and white labor organized labor fat or the political activist off crude plusses internally divided pakistan a while to figure out plan needed one another that was fraught with tension. so poorly in the 30's those
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who joined in 1938 to. it is commemorated in public space but what i'd do it is to look at this moment in the broader political implications. rather than in '01 and was crushed but publicity and state mexican-american workers formed a powerful alliance to helped faugh feel laugh the senior to the post of the mayor and then the coalition of the first
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moment they broke away from the san antonio political machine and to do so for a fix for americans. at the time mr. sutton becomes a part the the key figure to build those ridges on the ground between the groups. then i follow each of the actors and i turned to houston african american workers build a civil rights unionist movement where neither raid - - meter race nor class word trump and then this was built that
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was only behind day trait. -- detroit in that was a broad vision with goals of racial justice and economic issues. access to quality housing and political power. that it becomes a foundation moving forward not just access to our integration into a tie that with economic justice for so to look at these keys sorts of
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characters as a pair of union organizers to join in the struggle of the houston chapter as a black railroad worker and uses that to break down the discrimination that work along with his wife. coming out of the of progressive party. it meant some of the more outspoken and radicals did not disappear. that broad vision is carried
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forward and the similar story with the mexican americans. white liberals are activating building a precinct level alliance end eventually spawn a state wide body so i follow the origins of that story of a labor lawyer who in is a figurehead of white liberals
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and in the '50s that struggle jumps to run new level and they come to gather in a partnership to be elected and is the first african-american and from the region and the mexican american counterpart to fight for equal access but out of those early efforts efforts, say reconfiguration -- comes a tradition and elbert becomes active that
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forms another local political club and uses that to build a massive get out of vote machine and add soleil stevenson speaks as a major victory moving forward pie ion 10 -- then they elect to the city council. from that post build a civil rights movement of his own fighting for labor rights and the political struggle.
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with that broad vision it is destroyed by the cold war and that is called the texas council of voters that is led by albert and other key activist and with white to liberals but that last piece maintained a predominantly white movement african-american workers to make bad down -- but by a the '60s and that case
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pushes us in the different direction of the of labor movement that is increasingly militant and increasingly committed to civil rights from a plumber from salmon tokyo -- san antonio and becomes an officer from the afl-cio to do education work also lobbying the legislature and then to take them out on a long strike and that the
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garment industry and day for may 8 coalition that is a critical moment to that albert as a political activist come together for go some of the strikes were unsuccessful but that network continues. so over time there is a tight coalition and debris in white liberals. then day work their way to mobilize at the national level as the rise to power
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takes place and with that kennedy campaign and then the senate in movement predominantly african movement so after 1960 they are forced to handle black and brown counterparts that is of moment of the real coalition building i don't want to get into too much detail about that but the first effort after he
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becomes president of the texas afl-cio that most of those early efforts to call these various reasons for distrust that more attention is paid to the freedom struggle of that persistent feeling bantu hold coalition meetings and don't think of the impact and they develop organizing programs and often think they themselves to can stand in a position to educate voters instead of
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identifying or a building that leadership. it is a process to figure out of leadership and with at leadership seat those two key leadership candidates either merge and both ran against each other and neither one is presented with a republican and the very conservative so in this day complete disaster. to read distribute political
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power. and over several chapters sideshow those differences. to work through their problems. and deepened the abolition ships. there is also a process to further differentiate themselves that mexican americans organize a group of film it is spanish speaking as a broad coalition to be elected as the first chairman there is
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a wide friday -- variety of viewpoints of tactics and did not think it was advantageous to demonstrate in the sea -- streets or to engage in an unruly protest but albert was committed to the of militant style to demonstrate and be arrested in the of process and this is just two examples from the of liberal labor conservative wing to work more closely with the
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conservative party. ended would take several years and the end result is firmly in control with the of more elite social alliance to build across the of color line for those who demand economic justice in more militant ways. but most notably in 1963 when the teachers' union for the alliance to takeover the small south texas city that has dominated by the
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population but always ruled by anglos in for the first time looking at the first revolt or the movement from the first-round. african-americans will differentiate themselves internally. john connally runs for governor of texas even though he is a conservative the first time to be seen as powerful enough but his main opponent that called for integration had never erred done that before.
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and once he takes office how do you interact with us new administration? . .
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>> i will just jump ahead. one of the speakers is a man named to -- who is an attorney from dallas. he is founder of a texas state conference of the naacp. later that texas council he is one of the four cochairs of the democratic coalition. he got up on stage and gave an address. much like people try to do today saying how many at the time negro voters were in texas and how many latin american voters. a huge labor vote and other independent white citizens. tell them on election day that when they come around each of us
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will remember governor. he talked about how they make campaign promises but then had not followed through on them. he had hidden behind ideas of gradual or voluntary immigration and he laid into each of the various arguments. finally he concluded it's over when the governor can separate negroes except those few are conservators and have gone super rich. they'll never separate the latin america again in politics he said. they'll never separate though were unified at the battle box and in the courts. and i believe that's less message i got for my governor. and someone someone gets up and gives a speech. it becomes this broad effort and then transitions back to the daily work which they been doing throughout. the coalition sponsors
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unprecedented voter registration campaign or project vote. they reach deep down into the cities ghettos of the city. they hired african-american and mexican-american staff people to lead the charge. a project director was an unknown community activist name to barbara jordan. this is happening all over the state. a longtime activists of the civil-rights labor struggles become the labor coalition on the ground. think think age in an effort to educate black workers and to spread the message of economic justice, political power and racial equality on the ground. they're successful in doing it. they cover johnson in other victory and 64. they exert the power, they failed to re- peel low tax which is one of the main
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goals. they succeed in transforming state and local politics. so that we have these deep dark blue central cities surrounded by red suburbs. it happened when the cities get organized. i don't know why the coalition ultimately declined. we can talk about it later. i wanted jump back to the present moment and give you time for questions. the history of the democratic coalition of the 1960s offers insights into today's more immediate concerns. that was laid out by the democratic coalition. the more committed to civil-rights the more successful it will become. there among the many latinos that carried hillary clinton to victory in the same year's primary election. i can talk about that later.
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[inaudible] they need to capture the growing number of youthful liberals and libertarians who support gay rights. and have access to college in affordable housing and so on. it must take seriously the cost organized labor for workplace safety, equal, equal treatment, collective bargaining for all. it is long been -- the one organized for stop in the legislature from all public services. his pastime the leaders embrace time instead of taking it for granted while privately dismissing it as a special interest group. most are partly, the party took success to organize and energize its grassroots basis. the coalition transformed the election in the 50s in state politics not because of flashy messaging but because it created
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-- into the lands. her prior ties leadership and agenda of its nonwhite members and it did not shy away from embracing its most radical for the time activists. that other demonstrations on the core of the federation. alongside albert pena and other architects. these protests may appear ordinary or unremarkable to present day but at the time there were behind respectable politics. most militant as well as white conservative opponents. they demanded immediate justice and connected direct action adding emergency a moral imperative. and it worked. progressive democrats today must similarly raise the confrontational morley driven social movements of our own time. you can get behind black lives matter and out front of it. you. you need to get behind immigrant rights in the defense of dhaka. on the struggle for lgbt rights
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in the workplace and beyond. but they haven't done much of that. in fact in many ways we move the other direction. they got rid of the precinct caucuses in recent years. much of the grassroots efforts that they formed in the 19 sixties. and in this context it's impossible to imagine that the current party will raise an army of block workers in the future, time and to broader social movements and bringing the message down to city block. it's hard to conceive of the essence of the version of the democratic coalition of an intermediate diverse party organization for shut the grassroots. some think about that the party will attach it to larger crusader freedom in ways that african-americans and immigrants marginalized groups. i hope i'm wrong, it should be the exact mission of democratic of all colors. it must reconnect
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the election of daily life store near people while linking the exercise to vote to uncompromising urgent and morley driven insurgent civil rights movement of the 21st century. only then will the quest for a democratic texas be complete. then and only then will we return texas blue. thank you. [applause] >> now we have reached the q&a portion of our evening. be sure to wait so you get the to ask a question. don't be shy. >> hello. it's striking to me to hear about how effective or how present labor was in this area. and and now it seems as though
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it wasn't perhaps as effective as a mobilizing force. my question is, what were the causes that may have led to a decline in labor strength and being able to ship politics in texas? did that occur in taxes at a time that time that was maybe different than the rest of the country. >> labor is a key part of the coalition. for me it's very hard to imagine a progressive movement that does not have labor in some form. so across the country there several moments to look at for the purging of radicals from the labor movement. and it narrowed its division of most places. as i said that wasn't the be all and all and i think that's much in the south and southwest. but labor continue to fight. and it's also because it created the right to work laws and a bunch of other anti- labor us.
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and i think organized labor had a very narrow base. it was primarily among white male industrial i want to the things that brought to labor in texas in the 60s was the experience of working side-by-side with the workers in san antonio. in the sense that look at these people who are potentially unorganized, and what can labor do to commit itself to organizing itself south texas. in the kinds of businesses in which they are not traditionally represented. to his credit hank brown rolled out a bunch of programs some of which i get into the book. using labors as a resource as a whole to help those communities lay the foundation for later union organizing. a lot of the battles are there and fought moss. and then of course the industrialization comes along and pulls the rug out from the
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industrial part and they will not fight back. so moving forward what we see is the labor movement texas and elsewhere beginning to experiment new forms organizing taxi drivers union a new occupational groups with the workers defense project where they're advocating for construction workers on the job and not in traditional union structure. organize labor needs to get back to the thinking of itself is a broad social movement rather than just the interest of its. there's lots of positive signs in that direction. and hopefully that will mean it can reverse that long trend of decline. >> the jobs went to china we
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lost that industrial base. you can organize when there is no factory. they said they should move to alabama or tennessee because those laws and those rights were claims were so established. one of the labor movement has to go as they are is to public works into the cities and counties. >> and i agree with you. if there's no job for organizing a can organize manufacturing. there's no economic reason for that. the reason is all about power. if workers were to organize a mcdonald's that way they organize a general motors they would make the same amount of money. we can make the new economy the about good jobs. i agree with you the fantasy of
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reorganizing manufacturing sector is probably just that. those jobs are not coming back. but labor is moved in that direction. there's there's been a fight for 15 among workers in the fast food industry eight and an effort to push back and walmart and hospitals because those jobs can't be outsourced. there's 1,000,000 of them and i'm sure i could tell us more. that's the future, for future, for sure. they can't just be about work. it has to be about working people on their experiences be on the worksite and the community as well. >> i agree with that and i have seen that my lead. i'm a retired union organizer. it was my last two and half years was organizing with the nurse's unit in el paso. the nurses union for the first time anywhere in texas organized
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for hospitals in the space of about less than two years. it is seven hospitals are now organized in the state. four and el paso. paso. organizing took a lot of work but they still looked up to we are only four nurses union in for hospitals. we need to look out to the community and look at a broader struggle. and understand the history of el paso as a low-wage city. so we began some of those very same things. and leaders, not not me but other leaders and we jumped in as organizers. we began to build calling for a living wage. we call for safety
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on the job and stopping wage theft. we built coalitions with the mexican american community and immigrant groups and catholic groups. and lobby. and lobby council and made some gains that way. we did not know the history, but i am hoping to share your book with more of these. there are things like that being done now that are inventing how to do it. the teachers union has done that to run the state. organizing parents to work together in coalition to school board members. there's lots. there's lots of examples how that still building. >> i'm optimistic about all of that and i think it is great. i will read the book and figure out what they might learn from that. one of the things i might argue is where the sources of change are coming from is being multi-- make the civil rights movement is what gave the labor movement new energy in the 19 sixties. right now, black lives matter is organizing communities communities in ways we have not seen in decades. hillary clinton barely talked about it on the campaign trail and basically dodge the
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questions in the debate. i think it is clear for democrats to win they are going to have to align themselves with racial justice struggles like that. and they are going to have to continue to be advocates for working people of all colors. they cannot do one or the other. >> hello. thank you for your talk. i look forward to reading the book and chapters. i was wondering, i apologize if i missed this. i was wondering what the role, or if you discuss the role of the fw or the farm workers union in this moment. you talked about marching. [inaudible]
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>> you should make them all by the book for starters. the book ends with the march in 1966. it six. it is the beginning of the epilogue. that is a critical moment in pushing the chicano movement to new levels a new height and bringing awareness to the issues and the cause beyond just south texas. it drew upon upon the networks i write about in the book. the activist who had been politicized and trained in pain he is organization are the core of the aid caravans that feed the strikers in the valley and help them make the march up your. when they get to austin on labor day of 1966 they are joined by 10,000 union activists from across the state. most of them white. they're going by the naacp who led a march in one
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group, a group of students from huntsville in east texas who had march there to be there in solidarity with them. i recap that in a multiracial moment in the book. it is a critical turning turning point. and a lot changes as a result. but i would say what we see after 1966 is with the farmworker struggle energizes more chicano activists and pushes the politics of the elders further to the left. they do it again with the support of african-americans and whites labor people. when they're pushing for the minimum wage during the 1967 session they are succeeding because they are lobbying for and is now in the senate, joe is in the senate. they have is in the senate. they have the votes because of the coalition. it is a fitting into the story. although it is also a new
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beginning. it is a moment when the federal government finally intervenes in the affairs of the south texas in critically important ways. >> i hate to be the one to ask this question, but you said you're going to talk about how the coalition of solve. i'm i'm curious as to what happened? >> it dissolves for a lot of reasons. the ascension's were always there and the fact that they overcame a lot of the disagreements at all was a remarkable story. there was a time of a couple of years where they managed to work together effectively. what we see the biggest change in turning point is the assassination of kennedy in 1963. prior to that moment most observers in the state thought
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that yarber had a good chance of defeating john commonly in the next election. they thought the liberal movement was moving the needle. they saw what was happening in washington and national politics. they saw the civil rights activists getting more inpatient and active every day. when kenny d got shot in dallas, john commonly got shot two and he became untouchable politically. that made the coalition founder and identifiable target. the other piece that came with it is that because they had worked so well, african-americans, african-americans and mexican americans exerted new power in which they wanted to put the priority first, understandably. white activists were not always ready for that. the end results i get into it in great detail in the tenth chapter. the coalition starts in fighting again and white liberals decide to go it alone. they form a group called the texas liberal democrat and they claim that they were going to
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have a group of individuals and be colorblind and speak for everyone. that did not work. it was a conflict over what the goals were for white liberals it was to win this fight with the democratic party i to rig good government to the state and it was about winning the next election. so they were just different visions. i argued that the unconscious often white supremacy of the liberal made it very difficult to see that. >> right after your book the economic opportunity act was passed. hundreds and thousands of people who were active went to work for headstart, legal aid or community action. minority people from the economy -- give me the names they all
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came out. but my point is that all of a sudden a lot of people who were doing other kind of organizing the elements for secondary education, millions of dollars and so people went to do other things. >> sure. there is a certain amount of fatigue of fate fighting the same battles. i think also there's many cases in which activists use the antipoverty agencies t continue the struggle to do civil rights work in new ways, maybe most note notable when the vasa vista mobilization program to get the federal government to hire 30 organizers for them and it works really well until henry gonzales found out about it and he found it threatening.
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but, what we learned is there's a bunch of new scholarship on what were calling the grassroots war on poverty on how that was an extension of civil rights struggles. but clearly there is something lost if you're going to work at headstart and not an independent protest organization. you are limited in what you can do. >> it is important work that save people's lives and that's one of the reasons people started getting into the activism in the first place. but i think the depiction of those programs as the protest that probably had some truth to it. >> can you talk about the role of women in your book? >> is interesting. there is a number of power couples in the
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book. so i feature a white woman who is a union organizer and democratic party activists. i feature the roy who is a union activist and an african-american from houston. they played prominent roles in the story. they do a lot of the work of organizing on the ground at different moments. and of forging a bond between the two of them that becomes a model for others. they are both married women. married women have access to the best kind of public leadership. there. there are no single women in the records. they did not have access. it was clear it was mostly a boys club in the 1960s. they periodically would tackle gender specific issues at work or something like that. a lot of the democratic white
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liberal democratic leaders were women as well. that was seen as good housekeeping among middle-class was to be involved and those who were liberals extended that to the broader struggle. gender issue has become much more prominent in the 1960s. but you see powerful woman play critical roles doing the groundwork for the san antonio campaign. they are there. and they play an important role. they don't generally run for office until later. >> we have time for one more question.
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>> i was thinking about the history of the labor movement then maybe not a new trend but a growing trend on us looking at the cost alliances. there is a conference at the national association for chicano studies coming up and this is the theme. in your opinion, why do you think, your book your book is coming just now. why do you think -- it seems like a very important topic. so why is it just coming out now? >> not just labor history but social movement social history more generally. why is it happening now? i've been working on this for ten years. this for ten years. there is a lot of us who have been an talking at different conferences about this work. i think it is finally catching on. there's a critical mass of studies coming out helping to make the case that we need to study these in a different perspective. take on this strike in san
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antonio, it's very important. we have analyzed it. the gender dynamics in important ways. but it tends to be viewed as a mono ethnic phenomenon. this one group, chicano workers against the anglos date. and what were finding is by looking at those through multi racial lines it changes the meaning in important ways particularly among mexican americans. the caricature of the activists that we seen in historical scholarship is that it's essentially conservative and politics. they are not interested in being mexicans, they they want to be in americans. they are patriotic and even at times there viewed as anti-black. that they align themselves with the forces of white supremacy in the age of jim crow. looking through the multiracial lens exposed that story.
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instead, we see members of the mexican american generation who are liberal, who are fighting in the streets and using unruly taxes and art expanding postwar liberalism tell people. so i think that and the election of obama. i start the book with the election of obama. in 2008 and 12 is drying around 70% of the latino vote and everyone wants to know what's going to happen is it going to keep growing and continue to support african-americans and white candidates like hillary clinton? so i think we are trying to answer those big questions. the case i am making this the way we talk about coalition's electoral politics is these different groups coming out of voting on election day is not enough. we need to think about building grassroots social movements and how that is connected to
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politics. i think those are different forces at work. it's a critical question. if we are going to build more democratic society, the question of how do the largest minority groups in the country interact with one another and with progressive lights and labor whites, that that is the key question to figure out the answer to. my hope is that this book is a start on that. >> thank you very much for having me. [applause] thank you for coming out tonight. we will be doing the signing. if you could form a line we will come around with posted's in case you want to personalize your book. >> you do need to purchase it downstairs.


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