University of Iowa Honors Theses

Thesis Title

A Turf Issue: Mexican American Perspectives on Interactions with African Americans in Davenport, 1949-1972

Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Alyssa Park

Thesis Mentor

Mariola Espinosa


Although there is existing research on African American and Mexican American communities in Iowa, little has been written on the interactions between these two communities. Existing literature on these interactions often draws from large, U.S. coastal cities. Therefore, this study will focus on the city of Davenport in Iowa. Although many African Americans and Mexicans Americans usually lived in different neighborhoods, there was still a significant amount of neutral, if not friendly, interactions between them. Davenport was also enmeshed in intense activism from the 1940s through the 1970s; it was the site of active National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and League of United Latin American Citizens chapters. This study looks through the lens of Mexican American civil rights leaders and their organizations to analyze interactions between the two groups in question throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This study utilizes oral interviews, archival materials, and secondary accounts. An analysis of the history between the Mexican American and African American communities in Davenport reveals that: 1) Some Mexican Americans were drawn out of their social isolation by a variety of factors, including the activism of African American civil rights leaders, 2) Mexican American civil rights leaders were able to form a working relationship with their African American counterparts by rejecting a white identity, and 3) attempts to formally unite both communities failed due to differing priorities and simmering competition for resources.


African American, Mexican American, race relations, coalition building

Total Pages



Copyright © 2018 Cindy Carolina Garcia

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