Large numbers of Latino migrants began to arrive in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the 1950s. They joined a small but established Spanish-speaking community of people from Texas, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Delia Fernández-Jones merges storytelling with historical analysis to recapture the placemaking practices that these Mexicans, Tejanos, and Puerto Ricans used to create a new home for themselves. Faced with entrenched white racism and hostility, Latinos of different backgrounds formed powerful relationships to better secure material needs like houses and jobs and to recreate community cultural practices. Their pan-Latino solidarity crossed ethnic and racial boundaries and shaped activist efforts that emphasized working within the system to advocate for social change. In time, this interethnic Latino alliance exploited cracks in both overt and structural racism and attracted white and Black partners to fight for equality in social welfare programs, policing, and education.
“This is an original, indispensable, and beautifully poetic book that weaves together stories of migration, placemaking, and activism to show how Mexicans and Puerto Ricans made a home in Grand Rapids. With rich oral histories and archival research in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S., Delia Fernández-Jones has written an insightful and inspiring book that makes a vital contribution to fields of Latino and Midwestern history.”
Felipe Hinojosa, author of Apostles of Change: Latino Radical Politics, Church Occupations, and the Fight to Save the Barrio