Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

9/1/2008 - 8/31/2009

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Black and Latino Civil Rights Strategies in World War II Texas and the Southwest, 1940-1965

FAIN: FA-53128-07

Neil Foley
University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX 78712-0100)

This book-length study will examine the complicated relationship between African Americans and Latinos (mostly Mexican Americans) in Texas and other states of the Southwest from World War II to 1965, when Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration Act (ending quotas based on national origin) and a year after it ended the Bracero "guest worker" program (1942-64) with Mexico. The analysis centers on the various strategies--legal, labor, and political--of ethnic Mexicans and blacks to desegregate schools, gain voting rights, and end discrimination in employment and jury selection within the context of World War II, the Cold War, national civil rights struggles, Mexican and African American civil rights organizations, the U.S Good Neighbor Policy, labor struggles, and ongoing immigration. (Edited by staff)

Media Coverage

(Media Coverage)
Date: 1/7/2012

Associated Products

Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity (Book)
Title: Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity
Author: Neil Foley
Abstract: examines the complex interplay among regional, national, and international politics that complicated efforts of Mexican Americans and African Americans to find common ground in ending employment discrimination in the defense industries and school segregation during World War II and the years leading up to Brown v. Board of Education. Underlying differences in organizational strength, political affiliations, class position, level of assimilation, and legal strategies belied the assumption that Mexican and Black Americans could easily cross race and class lines to forge strategic alliances in their fight for economic and educational equality. The fluidity of race relations in Mexico and Latin America (based mainly on skin color, class, and culture) yielded before the stark reality of the black-white color line in the U.S, which made the prospect of interracial cooperation between blacks and middle-class Mexican Americans (whose white racial status was never secure) doubly difficult to achieve. Quest for Equality reveals how these tensions and uncertainties—and Black-Latino efforts to overcome them—first emerged over fifty years ago in Texas and California where Mexican Americans and African Americans sought, against great odds, to cooperate with each other in the arenas of international civil rights politics, labor competition, and educational equality. In the end, however, Mexican American civil rights leaders and Mexican consuls saw little to gain and much to lose in joining hands with African Americans.
Year: 2010
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Harvard University Press
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Harvard University Press Reviews
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780674050235


Texas Institute of Letters, Most Significant Scholarly Book Award
Date: 4/1/2011
Organization: Texas Institute of Letters
Abstract: The Texas Institute of Letters is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to stimulate interest in Texas letters and to recognize distinctive literary achievement.

Finalist, William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America, 2011
Date: 4/1/2011
Organization: Clements Center for Southwestern Studies, Southern Methodist University
Abstract: Annual award for the best non-fiction book on Southwestern America

A Huffington Post Best Social and Political Awareness Book of the year for 2010
Date: 11/1/2010
Organization: The Huffington Post
Abstract: Quest for Equality named "one of the best books of the year that made...a case for social uplift, based on reason, analysis, and judgment."

Mexicans in the Making of America (Book)
Title: Mexicans in the Making of America
Author: Neil Foley
Abstract: Traces the history of Mexicans in the Southwest, the cycles of Immigration, World War II US-Mexico diplomacy, bracero program, civil rights, immigration laws and anti-immigrant movements, and the Latinization of the U.S. population in the 21st century.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes