In the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Strike of 1933, frenzied cotton farmers murdered three strikers, intentionally starved at least nine infants, wounded dozens of people, and arrested more. While the story of this incident has been recounted from the perspective of both the farmers and, more recently, the Mexican workers, this is the first book to trace the origins of the Mexican workers activism through their common experience of migrating to the United States. Rodolfo F. Acuna documents the history of Mexican workers and their families from seventeenth-century Chihuahua to twentieth-century California, following their patterns of migration and describing the establishment of communities in mining and agricultural regions. He shows the combined influences of racism, transborder dynamics, and events such as the industrialization of the Southwest, the Mexican Revolution, and World War I in shaping the collective experience of these people as they helped to form the economic, political, and social landscapes of the American Southwest in their interactions with agribusiness and absentee copper barons.
Acuna follows the steps of one of the murdered strikers, Pedro Subia, reconstructing the times and places in which his wave of migrants lived. By balancing the social and geographic trends in the Mexican population with the story of individual protest participants, Acuna shows how the strikes were in fact driven by choices beyond the Mexican workers? control. Their struggle to form communities graphically retells how these workers were continuously uprooted and their organizations destroyed by capital. Corridors of Migration thus documents twentieth-century Mexican American labor activism from its earliest roots through the mines of Arizona and the Great San Joaquin Valley cotton strike. From a founding scholar of Chicano studies and the author of fifteen books comes the culmination of three decades of dedicated research into the causes and effects of migration and labor activism. The narrative documents how Mexican workers formed communities against all odds.
Rodolfo F. Acuna was the founding chair of the Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Northridge, where he is a professor. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos, Sometimes There Is No Other Side, and Anything But Mexican.