Memories of Chicano History: The Life and Narrative of Bert Corona

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University of California Press, Mar 3, 1994 - History - 369 pages
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Who is Bert Corona? Though not readily identified by most Americans, nor indeed by many Mexican Americans, Corona is a man of enormous political commitment whose activism has spanned much of this century. Now his voice can be heard by the wide audience it deserves. In this landmark publication—the first autobiography by a major figure in Chicano history—Bert Corona relates his life story.

Corona was born in El Paso in 1918. Inspired by his parents' participation in the Mexican Revolution, he dedicated his life to fighting economic and social injustice. An early labor organizer among ethnic communities in southern California, Corona has agitated for labor and civil rights since the 1940s. His efforts continue today in campaigns to organize undocumented immigrants.

This book evolved from a three-year oral history project between Bert Corona and historian Mario T. García. The result is a testimonio, a collaborative autobiography in which historical memories are preserved more through oral traditions than through written documents. Corona's story represents a collective memory of the Mexican-American community's struggle against discrimination and racism. His narration and García's analysis together provide a journey into the Mexican-American world.

Bert Corona's reflections offer us an invaluable glimpse at the lifework of a major grass-roots American leader. His story is further enriched by biographical sketches of others whose names have been little recorded during six decades of American labor history.
 

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Memories of Chicano history: the life and narrative of Bert Corona

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The narrative of Corona's work as a Mexican American labor organizer reflects some five decades of struggles, setbacks, and successes. Beginning with the union movement of the 1930s, Corona traces his ... Read full review

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Since his tragic death while covering the massive Chicano antiwar moratorium in Los Angeles on August 29, 1970, Ruben Salazar has become a legend in the Chicano community. As a reporter and later as a columnist for the "Los Angeles Times", Salazar was the first journalist of Mexican American background to cross over into the mainstream English language press. He wrote extensively on the Mexican American community and served as a foreign correspondent in Latin America and Vietnam. This collection of Salazar's writing is a testament to his pioneering role in the Mexican-American community, in journalism, and in the evolution of race relations in the United States. Taken together, the articles serve as a documentary history of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and of the changing perspective of the nation as a whole. The book presents selections from each period of Salazar's career. The stories and columns document a growing frustration with the Kennedy administration, a young Cesar Chivez beginning to organize farm workers, the Vietnam War, and conflict between police and community in East Los Angeles. One of the first to take investigative jounalism into the streets and jails, Salazar's first-hand accounts of his experiences with drug users and police, ordinary people and criminals, make compelling reading. Mario Garcia's introduction provides a biographical sketch of Salazar and situates him in the context of American jounalism and Chicano history.
From Publishers Weekly
The first Mexican-American journalist to become prominent in the mainstream press, Salazar (1928-1970) was killed when Los Angeles police violently dispersed a Chicano antiwar protest and shot a tear-gas cannister through him. As Garcia, professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, points out in his well-sketched introduction, Salazar's subsequent martyrization by L.A. Chicanos obscures his contribution: he was no activist but a reporter translating parts of a changing America to itself. In this selection of journalism, Salazar's strength is not literary style; it is the sheer fact of his access and sensitivity to a community little understood by Anglos. There are barrio reports for the El Paso Herald-Post and, later, pieces for the Los Angeles Times in which Salazar covered issues of Mexican-American identity and growing political consciousness. The year he died, Salazar became a columnist, and his voice grew more assured and pointed, suggesting the increasing contribution he could have made had his life not been cut short.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
 

Selected pages

Contents

Redefining American History Bert Corona and Oppositional Narrative
1
Child of the Revolution
27
Border Education
44
Border Depression
56
Welcome to LA
67
Working for the Union
87
The MexicanAmerican Left
108
The War Years
135
New Frontiers
193
Expectations and Frustrations
217
Viva Kennedy
232
Chicano Power
245
Raza Si Guerra No
272
Raza Si Migra No
286
Pensamientos
321
Afterword
341

Coming Home
155
The Active Fifties
169

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About the author (1994)

Mario T. García is Professor of History and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Mexican Americans: Leadership, Ideology, and Identity, 1930-1960 (1989). David Montgomery is Professor of History at Yale University.

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