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MINORITIES AND POLITICS Understanding the Common Cause of Their Rise in Political Power

Understanding the Common Cause of Their Rise in...
United States’ politics are no longer ruled by old, white males like it once did. Today, the
politics of the U...
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MINORITIES AND POLITICS Understanding the Common Cause of Their Rise in Political Power

  1. 1. i CALIFORNIA STATE POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY, POMONA MINORITIES AND POLITICS: Understanding the Common Cause of Their Rise in Political Power A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements For the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science By Nam Kyu Kang March 2016
  2. 2. ii ABSTRACT United States’ politics are no longer ruled by old, white males like it once did. Today, the politics of the United States are run by faces of all different kind of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. However, the minorities had to endure years of discrimination and years of their livelihood becoming a backseat to that of their white counterparts, before getting to where they are now. Minorities are no longer the backseat of this country, making themselves relevant to this country’s political world. This paper will attempt to analyze the common factor that caused the ethnic groups, African-American, Chicano-American, and the Korean-American, to seek out and obtain the political power that was necessarily to protect their livelihood. Word count: 116
  3. 3. iii ACKNOWLEDGEMENT To God and to my family for being my number one fan since day one. To my brothers of XPO…I salute you for your never ending support.
  4. 4. 1 Introduction 45 African-American members. 37 Hispanic-American members. 13 Asian- American members. These numbers represent the number of minorities that served in the House of Representative during the 113th United States Congress (United States 2014). Today in United States, it is not uncommon to see minorities be politically involved, sharing their voices for concern. If a citizen from a third world country or a citizen suffering oppression from their own government was to enter the United States, they would probably see this country as a haven for minorities and for the weak. But could that be said the same for United States 50 years or even 20 years ago? Minorities getting politically involved have been a recent trend, being that this country was established 240 years ago. The rise of minorities and their political power really took off during the last century. Naturally, we must then ask ourselves what happened in the last century that caused this exponential rise of minorities getting involved in American politics? Government exists for one reason. Government is established to serve its citizens. Citizens are supposed to depend on their government to protect their rights not only as lawful citizens of a nation, but also rights as a human being. However, there have been incidents where the government fails to provide security for its citizens. Other times, there have been incidents where the government intentionally turns their heads on its own citizens’ cry for help. Sadly, the government of the United States also shares its dark past when it comes to turning their heads on its own citizens’ cry for help. The three minority groups here in the United States that have been a victim to such treatment are the African-Americans, the Chicano-Americans, and the Korean-Americans. These three
  5. 5. 2 minority groups all had to endure years of discriminations and being treated as a second class citizen compared to their white counterparts. The minorities soon realized that their wellbeing was being ignored by the government. From simple things such as not being able to use the same restrooms with the white folks to their call for plea being ignored while their businesses were burning down from a riot, the minorities finalized realized that their government would not make the effort to protect them. Thus the question becomes: Does the lack of efforts from the government to protect the livelihood of the minorities in the United States often lead to the rise of political power of the minorities? My argument to that question is the United States government’s failure to make the minorities’ safety and their wellbeing a priority, led to specific incidents where the minorities rose to gain the necessary political power to protect themselves and their livelihood. This thesis attempts to argue how the minorities felt like they had to take the matter into their own hands and gain the political power in order to protect themselves since their own government would fail to do so. More specifically, there have been specific incidents in history that caused the minorities to react. Each minority group endured very specific events pertaining just to them that made them rise in political power. For African-Americans, it was the Civil Rights Movement, for Chicano- Americans it was the Delano Grape Strike and lastly, for the Korean-Americans it was the LA Riots of 1992. While there could be other factors that push the minorities to be involved politically, I strongly believe that minorities get politically involved due to the lack of security from the government. Lack of security could cover broad topics, but more specifically for this thesis paper, we look into basic human needs that are not being
  6. 6. 3 protected by the government. For all three minority groups, they faced different needs that were being ignored by the government. African-American had their very basic needs as human beings ignored by the government. During the mid-20th century, African- Americans were told that they were not equal to that of their white counterparts. They could not legally use the same bathroom and legally had to seat on the back of the bus. Emphasis here is legally. Government made segregation legal; showing that the government endorsed treating the African-Americans different all due to their colors. For Chicano-Americans it was a little different experience. While they were not legally treated differently, they were taken advantage of due to their status in the country. Many of the Chicano-Americans came to this country through the Braceros program. Due to their status in the country, they were paid well below the work that they provided for the farm owners. Their living conditions were horrible as their bathrooms were nearly non- existent and young children who could barely talk were forced to work. While complaints were made, the local governments were endorsed and sponsored their campaign for re- election thus the local government turned their heads to the farm workers. Lastly, Korean-Americans saw their business and home burn down as police and fire department ignore their 9-1-1 call. For hours they called, as the rioters took over the streets, yet their calls were ignored. 9-1-1 responded to protect the streets of white community, despite the fact that they were not being affected by the rioters. With these clear evidences of government failing to protect the minorities, it was only matter of a time before the minorities rose to protect themselves. Literature Review
  7. 7. 4 The topic that will be studied within this paper will be about racial and ethnic minorities in the United States and their rise in political power. To be more specific, the research will be conducted to study what causes the push for minorities to gain their political power. I argue that, the United States government’s failure to make the minorities’ safety and their wellbeing a priority, led to specific incidents where the minorities rose to gain the necessary political power to protect themselves and their livelihood. In order for us to prove the validity of this statement, we must ask ourselves, “Does the lack of effort from the government to protect the livelihood of the minorities in the United States often lead to rise of political power of the minorities? “This topic is important to study because if the hypothesis is true, the government needs to realize that they have a lot of work to do within their domestic affairs to bring about balance in the political realm. If the government continues to be unbalanced politically, minorities’ livelihoods will continuously be overlooked. The government needs to constantly change and evolve so that every citizen of this nation will be listened to with the same regard. The government should establish new public policies that would encourage minorities to be healthily involved in U.S politics, and perhaps discourage violence and turmoil. The literature examines three different areas: one studying African-Americans and their rise in political power, another studying how Chicanos farm workers fought to gain their political power, and lastly, how the Korean-Americans gained their political power. The paper examines these groups in ascending order, starting from the oldest of the minorities groups in the United States to the youngest. African-American’s violent rise to political power
  8. 8. 5 The first minority group that will be covered are the African-Americans. African- Americans are the oldest minority group in the United States. They first arrived to the United States in 1619, along with the colonists (Eyerman, 2002). The colonists would make a stop in Africa from Europe to purchase slaves to work their new lands in America before establishing their lives in the New World. From the first Africans that arrived in America, it would be a long, cruel road ahead before they would be able to establish themselves socially and politically. Through this history, African-Americans have faced some violent events that has taken away their livelihood. When their livelihood was threatened, the government must have failed to protect African-Americans. Eyerman (2002) brings to surface the violent past of the African-Americans by revisiting the history of slavery in the United States. He shows how the cultural trauma of African- Americans faced since the time of slavery, and how that caused the African-Americans to question their identity. Despite being an everyday citizen of this country, African- Americans continued to feel like they were second class citizens, failing to be equal with their white counterparts. He continues to state, “In this emergent identity (African- Americans) forged through trauma, slavery does not correspond to an experience, only to a point of origin…and continues to shape African American identity today” (Eyerman, 2002). The novel, “Violence”, states “Blood and anger in the people often times lead to up rise. Whether that is in violent or non-violent way, changes will come” ((Zizek, 2008). Zizek claims through this novel that when people are oppressed and angry, it is only a matter of time before they rise, and that changes will be inevitable. If one were to look at the history of the African-Americans in America, it is not a pretty one. It stays pretty much the same violent and oppressing story until the 19th century. Civil war breaks out in
  9. 9. 6 United States, and with the victory of Abraham Lincoln and the Union Army, slavery was abolished. Yet the story of the African-Americans sees little change. Despite the abolishment of slavery in the United States, black citizens do not get to enjoy the same liberties that a white citizen would enjoy. Here is where the research takes off. African American’s violent rise to political power (Deny of their livelihood) After the 1960s, the United States arose as a completely different nation. The economy was flourishing and the United States was in its prime. Yet despite this “golden image” that the United States portrayed, the country’s inner image was anything but golden. United States’ citizens were being abused and mistreated in every neighborhood across the States. The United States adopted a concept of “Jim Crow Laws”, where African-Americans were discriminated against due their skin color. To obtain equality in their own country, African-Americans started to organize themselves and started what is now called the “Civil Rights Movement.” According to Green (1991), the Civil Rights Movement was “African-American people’s struggle for social, economic and politically equality”. Lawson (2011) defined the Civil Rights Movement as a movement that awoke the moral conscience of the nation. African-Americans were being treated like second- class citizen to whites all because of skin color. The government of the United States denied the African-Americans the very same freedom they preached, “freedom, life and liberty”. The worst part of discrimination against African-Americans was that the law enforcement and the government made sure this way became the way of life in the United States. During this time, a fraternal organization in Tennessee called the Ku Klux Klan or
  10. 10. 7 “KKK” gained prominence in the United States. These “KKK” members burned black churches, burned a cross on the lawns of black owned homes and even killed innocent African-Americans. Yet authorities failed to react. According to Rachal (1999), “Mississippi law enforcement was remarkably inept at catching local whites who assaulted shot and tried to run over COFO (Council of Federated Organization- civil rights movement committee in Mississippi) members…no one was ever convicted for any of the church burning…COFO saw the local law enforcement as openly hostile”. This illustrates how the government failed to protect the livelihood of black people. Black churches were being burned; some black minorities were even killed. Yet the authorities did not react in an appropriate manner. Rather, they were aggressive and made African- Americans feel unsafe. Knowing that the government would not protect their livelihood, the African-Americans marched. Allen (2010) interviewed an individual who was involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The interviewee recollects how African-Americans formed coalitions, and church leaders organized different committees to battle segregation and hostility throughout the south. Church leaders came together to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and peacefully marched on and demonstrated to show the world how they were being denied their given liberties and their livelihood (Allen, 2010). African-American professionals came together, to form the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund (CORE-SEDF), which was a tax-exempt affiliation that carried out its educational and legal defense efforts to promote the Civil Rights Movement. This organization would tackle legal matters, winning small cases. Their strategy was to win enough of the small racial issue cases to build the creditability to their cause. They would
  11. 11. 8 win small victories, and slowly started to make legal grounds against segregation (Jong, 2013). At this time, the Civil Rights Movement’s “sister”, the Black Power Movement ran a more militant and radical operation. Joseph (2008) studied the Black Power Movement and wrote, “often dismissed as the civil rights era’s “evil sister”, black power…represented one of the most important social and political movement of the 20th century…Black power militants aggressively confronted political, education and cultural institution to promote racial pride and equal citizenships” (Joseph, 2008). It was clear that the African-Americans took matters into their own hands and established coalitions, committees, legal defense councils, and even militants; to protect their livelihood that was denied by their very own government. Ultimately it is difficult to say whether the Civil Rights Movement was a success. While it forced the American government to strike down all the discriminatory laws in place, and protect the equality amongst its citizens, it failed to bring up failing communities. However, the Civil Rights Movement definitely did its job in making African-American more politically involved and more powerful (Santoro, 2015). Chicano Rise in Political Power (Delano Grape Strike) Next to African-Americans, Chicano-Americans are the second oldest of the minorities in this group. If one were to look at the history of the Hispanics in America, it is actually quite different from that of African-Americans. Chicano-Americans fought their battles on the west in the early to mid-1900s. With rich soil and perfect weather conditions, rich and powerful farm owners pioneered grape production in California. By mid 1900s, California saw its grape planation expand exponentially. In order for this to
  12. 12. 9 happen, the farm owners needed farm hands to work the soil and tend to the grapes. Luckily for the farm owners, there was a large group of Chicano minorities that came to California looking for jobs to help raise their family back home. Without education and any social status, Chicanos were in the mercy of the farm owners and the stewards that directly dealt with the farm hands. During this time, the United States government passed a series of laws and held diplomatic agreements with the Mexican government to sponsor manual laborers into United States from Mexico. This program was called the Bracero program. This agreement guaranteed basic human rights (such as sanitation, adequate shelter and food) to the temporary contract laborers from Mexico. However, the reality was different than the agreements. Despite being promised fair wages, the farm owners made sure their money would come back into their own pockets. The farm owners proceeded to charge farm workers with everything, from transportation to housing to farms, and even food. To make the matter worse, the braceros were often not paid in a timely manner. The stewards, who oversaw the braceros, often made “mistakes” when they were inputting the hours the braceros worked, docking their pay (Jenkins, 1977). Martinez (2000), a Project Director in Denver Unified School District stated, “the Delano Grape Boycott was California grape farm workers’ struggle for basic human rights. In 1960 grape workers were making $2.00 a day, working up to 12 hours a day. These workers did not have access to drinkable water or any type of bathroom…children and adults alike were exposed to poisonous pesticides”. Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” exposed readers to the harsh living conditions for these farmers. The protagonist in the story reveals how his family was torn apart from sickness and abusive behavior from of
  13. 13. 10 farm owners. These workers were being denied basic human rights. Kushner (1975) tried to communicate how Chicano-Americans were being denied their basic human rights. He called the relationship between the Chicano farm workers and farm owners “slavery”. With earnings that would barely keep their family from starving, many farmers got sick from sanitation problems. The bathrooms were not cleaned; if they were lucky enough to have bathrooms. Drinkable water was not provided to the farm workers, and many died from bacterial infections after consuming the dirty water. Kushner (1975) wrote, “farm workers were robbed of 25 years of the lives…being cheated of wages and living conditions”. At the time, there were no labor unions put in place to protect Chicanos. Government at the time ignored these people and their struggles. The government turned their eyes away from these struggles as the farm owners were likely to be white. Garcia (2007) dived into the matter of the strike itself. Garcia explains what led to the boycott, how the boycott was conducted and what ultimately occurred as result from the boycott itself. Garcia does a great job explaining how Chicano-Americans fought for social justice in their efforts to keep the boycott going (Garcia, 2007). United Farm Workers (UFW) led the charge to make sure Chicano Americans were protected and represented well. Jenkins (1977) claims that the UFW did make a difference to the lives of the farm workers. By 1965, farm wage rates rose slightly and few public welfare benefits were extended in California. More importantly, the UFW made sure these “temporary farm workers” became short-term workers who could stay in the United States without worrying about leaving the country after the contract was over (Jenkin, 1977).
  14. 14. 11 The government failed to protect Chicano-Americans from being abused by the powerful farm owners. Despite being aware of the inhumane conditions farm workers were working in, the government decided to look the other direction to keep supporting the farm owners. Knowing that the government will not step in to save them, Chicano- Americans created labor unions that would allow them to fight and preserve their basic human rights. Korean American Experience (LA Riots of 1992) Unlike African-Americans or the Chicano-Americans, Koreans-Americans do not hold deep roots with the United States. Even to this day, the majority of the Korean- Americans here are third generation, meaning their grandparents were the first ones to have settled in the United States. Korean-Americans are a young ethnic minority in America, yet their rise to political power. While it took over two centuries for African- Americans to gain their political power, for Korean Americans it came in two decades. The story of Korean-Americans ascension into power began with the 1992 LA Riots. After four white police officers were exonerated from any charges after the beating of Rodney King, African-Americans became enraged. Boyarsky (1992), who was a writer for LA Times, interviewed a Korean immigrant who was shot at the scene of the riot. The man was Jin Moo Chung. He was protecting his store when his black neighbor shot Chung. Chung was unconscious until he arrived to the hospital. According to Chung, this riot was a result of political outrage. Enraged by the court ruling, African-Americans took their anger onto the streets. Chung stated that the Koreans were at the receiving end of the political outrage with no political ground to gain (Boyrasky, 1992). During the
  15. 15. 12 insurgency, Korean-Americans requested help from the police. Oh (2010) writes, “When the city police was called, there was no effective response. When the county sheriffs were called, there was no effective response”. The city police did not move to protect the Korean-American stores from being looted. It did not stop the fires spreading across Koreatown. Rather police focused on white-majority communities, in case the looting reached that area. Despite their plea for help, the authorities failed to adequately respond to protect Korean immigrants. Oh (2010) states the, “reason for the mass destruction visited upon Los Angeles in 1992…was total failure by local leadership to recognize that the economic and demographic shift was causing deep rifts in the community”. The city government failed to recognize that the communities were drifting apart due to cultural differences. The city failed to pay attention to the minority-majority cities and create necessary public policy to make sure that the tensions were not running high. Yet it could be that it was this trauma, this sudden and swift destruction of their homes that led to such a swift rise for Korean-Americans (Kim, 2012). It is quite surprising to see how fast Korean-Americans reacted to the situation. Kim (1995), an expert in the field of Orthopsychiatry conducted research in 1995 to see how the Korean Americans thought of themselves after the riot. Due to the fact that a large amount of Koreans had the education to work for a company, rather than owning stores, many left Koreatown and settled in Orange County. However, all the pressure fell onto the shoulders of their children. The 1.5 generation, who were born in Korea but raised America, were furious. Despite having their parents leave Koreatown to settle elsewhere, the 1.5 generation came back to fight for what was taken from them. They took it upon themselves to stand up and fight back (Kim, Chong, 1995).
  16. 16. 13 Seeing how their plea for aid was denied, the 1.5 generation Korean Americans took it upon themselves to organize the community; to make the community more politically aware, so that such tragedy would never occur again. Lee (2015), who studied the growth of 1.5 Korean-Americans stated, “Since the riots, Koreatown has also become more integrated as one political district, facilitating resident’s political involvement and coalition work in LA…with the creation and emergence of Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Koreantown Immigrant Workers Alliance and national Korean American Service and Education Consortium” (Lee, 2015). 1.5 generation Koreans knew that to grow stronger, the community had merge into one, one political voice and power. They started building necessary centers to provide services that benefit Korean immigrants in the area. The Koreans realized that without any political power, they would not be able to secure their regrowth. Thus, KADC or the Korean American Democracy Committee, and KARA, Korean American Republican Association, Koreans started making footholds in American politics (Park, 1996). With the emergence of the two party-based Korean Associations in the community, it made it more plausible for Korean Americans to gain that power to protect themselves. This paper at the end will analyze all three different ethnic groups and their violent and cruel past. After analyzing how their simple basic rights were being denied and the government failed to protect them; it would clearly show how the minorities had no other choice but to rise on their own to protect themselves. Methodology
  17. 17. 14 This thesis paper is designed to study the catalyst for minorities’ rise in political power. My purpose in designing this research was to see how the lack of interest from the government to protect their citizens due to their skin color or their status in the states served as a catalyst for the minorities’ rise to political power. More specifically, I was interested in studying the different ways the minorities groups rose to political power. For that reasoning, I chose the three different minority groups in this research. I chose African-Americans, Chicano-Americans and Korean-Americans because of their time here in the United States. African-Americans are one of the oldest minority groups here in the United States. Chicano-Americans are relatively in the middle compared to that of the African-Americans and the Korean-Americans. Korean-Americans are one of the youngest minority groups here in the United States, being that they only started arriving to the United States in the 20th century. With these minority groups in chronological order, I wanted to study how the differences in their time here in the United States had an effect on how they react to the government’s lack of efforts. I started my research with case studies on each individual minority group. My main purpose of the case studies was to measure how politically involved each minority group became after their specific events. After researching my case studies, I decided to proceed with interviewing experts in the specific minority groups. Through their expert opinions, I was able to determine whether or not my thesis would be successful or not. Case Studies For African-Americans, the specific event I decided to research on was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The reason I decided to use this event in history to
  18. 18. 15 measure the success of my thesis was due to the nature of the event. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was a direct result of the government failing to protect the livelihood of its minority citizens. In this case, it was actually the government being proactive in creating the havoc for the African-Americans. African-Americans were legally segregated from the white community, not being able to use the same restroom or even attend the same school. By being legally segregated from the white community, it didn’t take too much for someone to see the quality of the service and the education the African-Americans were receiving. In order for myself to measure the success of my thesis and its argument with the African-Americans, I decided to use student involvement in the rally. In order for myself to research this topic, I had to refer to political science journals and political science blogs to see how important the youths are in politics. Then I proceeded to study academic work of Dernoral Davis from CSU Northridge. In her essay, When Youth Protest: The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1955-1970, I was able to really study how important was the black youth movement during the Civil Rights Movement. Once I was done conducting my research on African-Americans, I then started to study the case studies for the Chicano-Americans. To start off, I was just narrowing my research to Delano Grape Strike and the farmers’ movement. Delano Grape Strike was chosen because of the way government chose to look away from the problem caused by the white land owners for their sponsorships and for their funding for their reelection campaign. However, after conducting various interviews, I was able to find correlation between the Delano Grape Strike and the Mexican Youth Movement of the 1960s. To start my research, I went into the UFW or the United Farm Workers main homepage.
  19. 19. 16 There, I was able to study the rise of the farmers’ movement. Led by Caesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers were able to inspire the young Mexican generations. This inspiration ultimately helped flame the rise of the student movement throughout California. On M.E.Ch.A’s homepage, I was able to study the timeline of all the Mexican student organizations and how that correlated with the Delano Grape Strike. Lastly, for the Korean-Americans I studied news articles and political journals that related to the LA Riots of 1992. LA Riots of 1992 was chosen to measure the success of my thesis due to the significance this event played in Korean-Americans’ and their rise to political power. Majority of the newspapers such as LA Times were used to show how the police and the fire department failed to respond to the plea call of the Koreans during the LA Riots (Chang, 2012). One of the sources that played the biggest role in proving the success of my thesis was by Professor Edward Park from University of Southern California. His essay, Political Formation of Korean Americans in Los Angeles: Visions of Political Power, 1992-1996, provided all the necessary information that was needed to prove how Korean-Americans became politically involved after the LA Riots of 1992. Interviews For my second method, I proceeded to conduct interviews and also collect interviews from various sources that would have enough creditability to support my thesis. For African-Americans, I was fortunate enough to have an access to interviews of actual students who partook in the student movement through CNN. Student leader activists such as Judy Tarver-Young and Larry Russell shared with the readers of their experiences as student activists and how the youth movement during the Civil Rights
  20. 20. 17 Movement made differences needed to help the African-American community gain that political power needed to defend themselves. For Chicano-Americans, I was very fortunate to interview Professor Huerta from Cal Poly Pomona. I wanted to interview an expert in Chicano-American experience, and fortunately enough, Professor Huerta from the Ethnic and Women’s Studies here on campus was available for an interview. The following is the interview transcript that took place on February 17th , 2016; 1. Prior to the Delano Grape Strike, how politically involved were the Chicano Americans? a. The Mexican origin has a deep root of resisting. In such ideas, such as the Aztecs with the Spaniards and such, our people always have been organizing to resist. People don’t really understand that Chicano- Americans always have resisted through organized rallies because it has not been as publicized as the African-Americans but even back to the 1800s, Mexicans have been fighting for themselves. Look at the League of Lulac. They have been proactive in uniting the Latino people for the common cause since the 1920s. 2. In your expert opinion, how did the Delano Grape Strike serve as a catalyst for Chicano American’s involvement in American’s politics? a. At the time, that was an agricultural struggle. Most of the Chicano and Mexican people who participated in the strike were either first generation Latinos with no education here in the United States or older generations. Now the biggest impact was on the youths. Most of the Chicano and
  21. 21. 18 Mexican future lived in the cities, with their parents back in the farm lands. For the youths, they could not relate to the experience of the farmhands. However, with the pride of being part of Mexican heritage, the youth started to organize collegiate organizations after partaking in the strike. 3. In what different ways did the Chicano-Americans get involved politically after the Delano Grape Strike? a. Like I mentioned before, let’s focus on the students perspective. Despite the fact that they were not in touch with the older generations of Latinos, they traveled to the farmlands to support their older generation of Latinos. After seeing the differences they can make with political organizations, they traveled back to their respective campuses and started to organize their fellow students. One of the biggest organizations took place in UCSB. 4. In your expert opinion, do you believe that the Delano Grape Strike caused the Chicano-Americans to get more involved more politically? a. Yes definitely. It allowed the younger generations of the Mexicans to get involved politically, especially with the students of the UCSB leading the way. It definitely created the roadmap for the future. 5. Finally, do you believe that the government failed to protect the livelihood of the minorities in the Delano Grape Strike? a. I definitely do believe that the government failed to protect the citizens. Unlike other movements during the 1960s, Delano Grape Strike was more
  22. 22. 19 on the local level. Farm owners during the time were white and rich. They supported the local government officials of their re-elections and such. Not only that, police brutality was very real. Often times, police would brutally beat the strikers and few even ended up dead. For Korean-Americans, unfortunately I was not able to interview the professor that was scheduled to hold the interview with me. However, he did end up sending me a documentary called the Koreatown, 20 Years After the LA Riots. In this documentary, I was able to collect interviews from politicians that were involved during the LA Riots. The interviews of the politicians allowed me to really measure the success of my thesis. More specifically, the redrawing of Los Angeles Koreatown boundaries caused a havoc amongst the Korean-Americans that really rallied the Koreans to be involved politically. Result African-American African-Americans are one of the oldest minority groups here in the United States. I was aware that the African-Americans already had some political establishment in the United States prior to the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s. So I decided to measure the success of my thesis by studying the student movement during that time. According to Vinod Kumar in his political journal article, he mentions that, “Politics is science to manage the country or state. Youth is young blood of nation and active workers of nation”
  23. 23. 20 (Kumar, 2009). As the member of the young generation, they become the portal to changing whatever is left of the world. These young generations are the ones who will be working for the government and its agencies, paving the new road for new students (Barisic, 2014). If the younger generations of a civilization were to be more politically involved, that would insure the future generation of its people to be more politically involved, being able to defend for their rights. That is what the African-American youth realized and got involved politically. The black leaders of the Civil Rights Movement realized how the youths could re-spark the momentum. This strategy would be less disruptive to the Black families, since the parents could continue to work and earn money for the family while the students and the youths could serve the necessary jail times for the movement (Role of Young People in the Civil Rights Movement, 2001). African-Americans were legally segregated from their white counterparts. The law enforcements would beat African-Americans who entered a restaurant that served only white folks. African-Americans would be arrested and put in jail if they refused to give up seats for the white folks. The African-Americans knew that they were being treated like a second class citizen, and for that they rose. When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference or the SCLC was formed under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr, the students all across the south rallied behind him. With his leadership, the students decided to organize their own committee, doing independent works that would benefit the cause. With such intentions, the students formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or the SNCC in April of 1960s. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee soon became fiercely independent of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and organized their own rally, such as the Freedom Rides (James,
  24. 24. 21 1981). Mississippi became their haven, and they really established deep roots in the state. One of the reason Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee stood out from the rest of other organizations was that it worked right within the cities, small towns and rural areas of the South where the development of local leadership was a key aspect of its political program. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee also gave the birth to one of the most infamous activist group during the Civil Rights Movement; the Black Panther Party. In 1965 to 1966 in Lowndes County, Alabama., SNCC’s worked with farmers and youths in the area to form the original Black Panther Party (Azikiwe, 2010). However, SNCC was the origin for another movement that took place in the 1960s. While this movement was not publicized as the Black Panther Party, it served the same purpose when it was originated. The movement was called the New Left Movement. Madeleine Davis defines the New Left Movement as, “In the United States the New Left grew out of student socialist activism…where it generally avoided traditional forms of political organization in favour of strategies of mass protest, direct action and civic disobedience” (Davis, 2015). New Left Movement focused on actual actions rather than political idealism. Being that they were a little more radical, they partook in protests such as the Free Speech Movement which took place during 1964 on the campus of University of California, Berkeley (Davis, 2015). New Left Movement represented the latest manifestation of left-leaning political activism, and it became popular amongst the college students all across the country. In state of Georgia, numerous schools established chapters of national and regional student political organizations, such as the Democratic Society and the Southern Student Organizing Committee or the SSOC (Huff, 2015). The
  25. 25. 22 highlight of the New Left Movement could be what happened after the Civil Rights Movement however. New Left Movement ideals from the Civil Rights Movement soon became a worldwide radical protest practices and the movement spread all throughout Europe in 1968. Youths that served in the Civil Rights Movement became one of the spearheads in revolutionizing America. Seeing how their own government was treating them, they became enraged and rallied under their leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Soon the youths realized how much power they actually held, and formed their own organization, the SNCC. SNCC became so influential that two different movements branched from it. The first being the infamous Black Panther Party, and the second being the New Left Movement. New Left Movement led by students all across the country, in various campuses, would soon become global and ignite the social activist movement in Europe. Chicano-Americans Chicano-Americans actually became most interesting of the three minority groups. Initially, I was just planning on measuring the success of my based on formations of labor unions that rose from the Delano Grape Strike. However, that quickly changed as I conducted my interviews and learned that the youth movement of the Chicanos during the 1960s could also be used to measure the success of my thesis. Once the farmers realized that they were not being protected by the government, they decided to take it to their own hands and rally together. In 1959, farmers grouped up together to form the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee or the AFL-CIO (The Rise of the UFW).
  26. 26. 23 The farmers’ movement really took off in 1962 when a young Chicano named Cesar Chavez joined the movement. When Cesar Chavez joined the movement, the AFL-CIO soon became the National Farm Workers Association or the NFWA. Soon, the NFWA became the United Farm Workers when the Filipinos joined the strike with the Chicanos. United Farm Workers was first and foremost a union during the time. The farmhands who arrive to the United States through the Braceros program knew that they were being abused by the rich farm owners. They were being paid well below the works that they were putting in, they did not have any sanitary restrooms, and the farm owners were charging them for every little things that were necessary to survive. The Chicanos were making $2 an hour, and being charged $0.25 per rides from and back from the farm. Not only that, they had to ensure they could feed their children, and pay for their education. When their children were not in school, they were forced to work. During the time, there weren’t really strict enforcements on child labor, thus the rich farm owners could use the Chicano children’s extra hand for free. Under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, the farmhands united and the Delano Grape Strike was born. With the unionized organization, the Chicanos were able to raise their income, and provide a safer environment to raise their family in. The Delano Grape Strike became such significant part of the Chicano history because it resulted to the very first industry-wide contracts for farm workers, including increase in pay, providing sanitary restrooms out in the field, and providing safe water to drink for the workers. It could be said that this boycott was the first of its kind to bring a multimillion dollar agriculture powerhouse to its knees. According to Duane Campbell, a professor from Sacramento State, “Delano Grape Strike totally changed labor politics and Latino Politics…it inspired the events of September and it had
  27. 27. 24 an impact on the international level with the grape boycott that followed after. Thousands of people of different races and the ethnicities devoted their lives to activism and nonviolent protest. The strike and boycott awakened Latinos, the sleeping giant of California politics. It triggered the Chicano movement and the creation of bilingual education department” (Magagnini, 2015). However, this wasn’t the only way to measure my thesis’s success. Chicano youth at the time went to school and lived in the cities. Majority of the second generation Chicano-Americans were not really in touch with the roots of their ancestors. Being raise in the city, the youths had little to no experience when it came to farm work. When they heard of the Delano Grape Strike, the Chicano-American youths rallied behind Cesar Chavez. One of the reasons behind the success of the Delano Grape Strike was due to ethnic unity. To the Chicanos, it didn’t really matter where everyone was from, or where their roots traced back to. The only thing that mattered to them was that their fellow Chicanos were being abused by the white folks and they must come together to protect themselves. The Chicano youths realized what they could do with such political power when they came together. Delano Grape Strike served as a catalyst for the Chicano youths to go back to their respective campus and start their own political movement. The 1960s saw exponential rise in Chicano-American student organizations, all throughout California. Aurelio Salazar, who specialized in studying the history of Mexican student organizations, gave her readers a timeline of Mexican student organization formation. After the news of the Delano Grape Strike, East Los Angeles Community College saw the very first student organization called the Mexican American Student Association or the MASA. By May 13th of 1967, students at Loyola University
  28. 28. 25 organized the United Mexican-American Students or the UMAS. When the students in Northern California heard of the organizations happening in the south, they rallied to form the Mexican-American Student Confederation or the MASC. By 1968, Los Angeles High School saw its very first Chicano based unionized organization called the Chicano Coordinating Committee on Higher Education or the CCCHE. Their purpose was to develop a statewide network of community and campus activist who would apply political pressure on campus administration to further expand equal opportunity programs for the Chicano-Americans (Salazar, 2016). The youths realized that if they wanted to protect themselves from being abused like how the older generations Chicanos were abused, they needed an education. Thus they rallied behind CCCHE. Chicano-Americans’ experience was a bridge gap. It started off just being a simple farmers’ movement, where the farmers were standing up against the powerful white farm owners. However, the Delano Grape Strike inspired the Chicano youths to get involved more politically. They gave rise to numerous different student organizations throughout the state of California. Also with formations such as the CCCHE, the Chicano-Americans ensured the education needed for the future generations of Chicanos to thrive and never be abused again. Korean-Americans Lastly, the youngest of the minority group Korean-Americans were left. Korean- Americans really had an interesting rise to political power as well. Prior to LA Riots of 1992, Korean-Americans just referred to themselves as Koreans. This was due to many
  29. 29. 26 Koreans at the time were immigrants, and could not adjust well to their new environment. The Korean roots in general were more secluded and they did not welcome foreigners too well, thus majority of the Koreans stuck to their community upon their arrival to the United States (Bates, 2012). Due to their lack of incorporating themselves to their new environment, the Koreans had very little allies in LA City Hall, Sacramento or Washington D.C. Their lack of political clout became apparent as their business were looted and burned down by the rioters during the LA Riots (Chang, 2012). According to Elaine Kim, who studied the psychological attitude of the victims of the riot, “When the Korean in South Central and Koreatown dialed 911, nothing happened. . . . How betrayed they must have felt by what they had believed was a democratic system that protects its people from violence. . . . What they had to learn was that, as in South Korea, protection in the U.S. is by and large for the rich and powerful. If there was a choice between Westwood and Koreatown, it is clear that Koreatown would have to be sacrificed” (Nopper, 2006). To make the matter worse, when media questioned Chief Daryl Gates about the lack of protections to the Koreans after the riot, he answered, ““There are going to be situations where people are going to go without assistance . . . That's just the facts of life. There are not enough of us to be everywhere” (Lee, 2015). These statements make a strong case to my thesis that the minority citizens believed that United States was a country that promoted democracy, and protected all its citizen equally. However, the reality was far from what they have expected. They realized that like any other country in this world, the government protects the wealthy and the powerful. This is when the Koreans realized that they could no longer keep quiet and keep to themselves.
  30. 30. 27 According to Shelly Lee, political scientist who specializes in Asian-American history, “the crisis of LA paved the way for the ascent of new leaders who could work the government agencies, speak to the media, and become deeply engaged with the U.S race relations” (Lee, 2015). It may have been the nature of the incident, or maybe it was the deeply rooted mentality of the Koreans, but the Koreans did not place complete blame on the government. Rather they blamed themselves for what they saw as their self-imposed isolation in their suffering. With that on their mind, the Korean Americans decided to engage with mainstream politics and affairs. After the riots, Koreatown soon became an integrated political district, with local agencies facilitating residents’ political involvement and collation works all throughout Los Angeles. In 1992, Koreans reacted immediately to rebuild and started to hold post-riot meetings to inquire about the necessary needs to rebuild their ruined city. To achieve their goals, a flurry of new organizations such as Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance or the KIWA, and National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, emerged (Lee, 2015). With this sudden awakening of political activism in Koreatown, organizations such as Korean American Democratic Association (KADA) and Korean American Republican Association (KARA) emerged, spearheading the political involvement in local and state level government. With leaders like Angela Oh and Jay Kim, the Koreans also sought out alliance from various other minorities near their home. With formations such as Multicultural Collaborative (MCC) and the Asian Pacific Americans for a New Los Angeles (APANLA), Koreans really integrated themselves to their new identity. At this point in their history in America, the Koreans no
  31. 31. 28 longer referred to themselves as “Koreans” but coined the new term “Korean- Americans.” All their efforts to become more politically involved in their local community came to a challenge when Los Angeles City Council tried to divide Koreatown in process of remapping the city. With this sudden rise in Korean political involvement, the City Council felt sudden threat, and attempted to divide Koreatown to divide the voting powers of the Koreans. In David Kim’s documentary, Koreatown, 20 Years After, Kim informs the audience, “Contrary to their wishes to be moved in whole to Councilman Eric Garcetti’s 13th district, a district that contains Thai Town and Historic Filipinotown, which would have given the community a better opportunity to elect a council representative of its own, the new map annexed most of Koreatown’s lucrative business core into City Council President Herb Wesson’s 10th district, which ensured that Koreatown will remain a captive minority within that district with no chances of electing a representative responsive to the needs and wishes of the Korean American community” (Kim. 2012). While the city council attempted to divide the Koreans so that they will hold no political influence in the government, hundreds of Koreans filled the meeting, protesting. Standing behind their political leaders such as Angela Oh, Grace Yoo and Aaron Yi, the Korean immigrants petitioned the redrawing of the boundaries to keep Wilshire Center Koreatown into one boundary. Korean-Americans’ rise to political power really proved the success of my thesis. Koreans learned that their government will not protect the weak. So they took the matter into their own hands and sought to build the political power needed to protect themselves. With forming of organizations such as the Korean American Democratic Association and
  32. 32. 29 the Korean American Republican Association, the Koreans found their voice in the American politics. Conclusion Today in United States, we see all colors of faces in the American politics. In some states, like California, minorities have become the majority. It wasn’t an easy road for the minorities. Like African-Americans, Chicano-Americans and the Korean- Americans, the minorities faced challenges. The challenges came from their own government. African-Americans were legally being segregated from their community, and often beat and harassed by the law enforcement. Chicano-Americans were rounded up and placed in inhabitable living conditions, with no restrooms and dirty water that often got them sick. Many times, their little children’s were forced to work in the fields for free and were abused by the rich farm owners. And the local government turned their hands, because their main source of support for their campaign came from these rich farm owners. Korean-Americans saw the businesses that they have built with their own two hands burn to the grounds because the police and the fire department rushed to protect Westwood. The Korean-Americans lacked the influence in their local government to be heard when they cried for help. There is one common component amongst these three minority groups. The government failed to protect the minorities and their livelihood. The government purposely treated them like second class citizens. The minorities soon
  33. 33. 30 realized that they could no longer be silent. They realized that their own government did not protect them. So they took the matter into their own hands. And they rose. African-Americans already had some political influence in the country. Thus they swiftly formed various organizations under their leader, Martin Luther King Jr. This inspired the young African-Americans. The youths are the future of the nation, and the youths of African-American community paved the way for their next generation. They swiftly formed their own organization such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and started their own boycotts. This movement led to formations of famous groups such as the Black Panther Party. It also led to the formation of worldwide phenomenon, the New Left Movement. Chicano-Americans did not stand idly by either. The farmers quickly formed the United Farm Workers union. They sought to increase pay and provide more habitable living situations for the Chicano farm workers. This inspired the Chicano-American students all throughout the state of California. Students started forming their own political organizations to help raise awareness of the Mexican heritage to their communities. Organizations such as Chicano Coordinating Committee on Higher Education fought to create equal education opportunities for the Chicanos. Korean- Americans soon followed their fellow minorities as they saw their businesses burn down right before their own eyes. The local government ignored their plea for help due to the fact that the Koreans lacked the influence in their community. To gain that necessary political power, Koreans grouped up to form the Korean American Democratic Association and Korean American Republican Association to start gaining the influences in the American politics. Even when the Los Angeles City Council tried to disperse the Korean-American’s voting power, they rallied behind their leaders and petitioned.
  34. 34. 31 When the government fails to protect the livelihood of the minorities, the minorities rose. They gained the necessary political power needed to protect their livelihood. This course of action ultimately formed the American Politics that we know of today.
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