Friday, April 4, 2014
From the Bookshelves: To March for Others: The Black Freedom Struggle and the United Farm Workers by Lauren Araiza
In 1966, members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an African American civil rights group with Southern roots, joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers union on its 250-mile march from Delano to Sacramento, California, to protest the exploitation of agricultural workers. SNCC was not the only black organization to support the UFW: later on, the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Black Panther Party backed UFW strikes and boycotts against California agribusiness throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. To March for Others explores the reasons why black activists, who were committed to their own fight for equality during this period, crossed racial, socioeconomic, geographic, and ideological divides to align themselves with a union of predominantly Mexican American farm workers in rural California.
Lauren Araiza considers the history, ideology, and political engagement of these five civil rights organizations, representing a broad spectrum of African American activism, and compares their attitudes and approaches to multiracial coalitions. Through their various relationships with the UFW, Araiza examines the dynamics of race, class, labor, and politics in twentieth-century freedom movements. The lessons in this eloquent and provocative study apply to a broader understanding of political and ethnic coalition building in the contemporary United States.
Lauren Araiza is Associate Professor of History at Denison University.