Although the dream of attaching their own Camelot to Kennedy’s ultimately ended in disappointment, these participatory efforts contributed to an identity-building process for Mexican Americans that led to greater emphasis on Americanization for some and to the more radical rhetoric of the Chicano Movement for others.
In Viva Kennedy, Ignacio M. García surveys the background, development, and evolution of the Viva Kennedy Clubs and their post-election incarnation as PASO, the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations. He argues that patriotic fervor of the 1940s and postwar economic expansion spurred middle-class Mexican Americans to strive for full inclusion in American society.
Ironically, those involved in the Viva Kennedy movement showed their militancy in fighting discrimination even as they upheld America’s conservative values. They believed that discrimination could be overcome through government actions that recognized their civil rights and through their own political participation.
García describes the post-election problems of the Viva Kennedy reformers, who first saw the Kennedy administration ignore its campaign promises to them and then encountered their own factional squabbles, chronic funding problems, and a growing unease among Anglo Americans wary of Mexican American political power.
Based on research and interviews with key leaders of the Viva Kennedy movement such as Ed Idar, Jr., Edward R. Roybal, and Albert Peña, Jr., this study unveils a portrait of a people in transition and provides a nuanced picture of twentieth-century Mexican American history.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press