Latinos at the Golden Gate: Creating Community and Identity in San Francisco

Latinos at the Golden Gate: Creating Community and Identity in San Francisco

Latinos at the Golden Gate: Creating Community and Identity in San Francisco

Latinos at the Golden Gate: Creating Community and Identity in San Francisco

Synopsis

Born in an explosive boom and built through distinct economic networks, San Francisco has a cosmopolitan character that often masks the challenges migrants faced to create community in the city by the bay. Latin American migrants have been part of the city's story since its beginning. Charting the development of a hybrid Latino identity forged through struggle-- latinidad --from the Gold Rush through the civil rights era, Tomas F. Summers Sandoval Jr. chronicles the rise of San Francisco's diverse community of Latin American migrants.
This latinidad, Summers Sandoval shows, was formed and made visible on college campuses and in churches, neighborhoods, movements for change, youth groups, protests, the Spanish-language press, and business districts. Using diverse archival sources, Summers Sandoval gives readers a panoramic perspective on the transformation of a multinational, multigenerational population into a visible, cohesive, and diverse community that today is a major force for social and political activism and cultural production in California and beyond.

Excerpt

“This doesn’t just affect Mexicans or Central Americans, documented or undocumented,”explained one San Francisco day laborer in the spring of 2006. “We are all affected.” Addressing other local jornaleros at a meeting of the San Francisco Day Labor Program, the undocumented man was referring to the Sensenbrenner Bill then working its way through Congress. the legislation, an effort to further criminalize undocumented immigrants, politically mobilized millions nationwide. the fifty or so members of the day labor group had met to discuss the controversy at La Raza Centro Legal, a grassroots organization dedicated to providing accessible legal services to the Latino community. Centro Legal brought together a broad coalition of Bay Area organizations and residents already organized in opposition to the draconian congressional attempts at “border security.” The jornalero’s passionate plea for unity was repeated throughout the city’s network of progressive advocacy organizations, articulating that spring’s political struggle in a much larger context. As he worded it, “This is against us—this is against Latinos.”

The same refrain of mutuality had echoed in the city decades before, in December 1985, when San Francisco became another in a growing list of municipalities around the nation declaring themselves “cities of sanctuary” for Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants. Members of the Latin American community were joined by a diverse group of San Franciscans in this successful movement, a multifaceted effort to pressure the city’s Board of Supervisors into taking “a moral position” on the humanity of refugees. the formal resolution forbade local law, health, education, and social service agencies from assisting Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents in the fulfillment of their duties with respect to Central Americans . . .

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