Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date

Summer 2009

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Annals of Iowa

Start Page


End Page



This paper tracks the emergent activism of a cadre of second-generation Mexican American Iowans. It describes how their local struggles for parity in housing, employment, and educational opportunity were brought into sharper focus by the national grape boycott, eventually culminating in their role in the passage of Iowa’s first migrant worker legislation. Sensitized by their experiences in the Mississippi River barrios where many of them grew up during the 1920s and 1930s, they became involved in political, labor, and civil rights organizations. In 1969, when the national boycott of California table grapes (led by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez) was in full swing, Davenport Mexican Americans led a coalition of community activists, providing effective local and state support for the grape boycott campaign. At the same time, they fought for the rights of Tejano migrant workers employed seasonally in Iowa’s agricultural industry. By observing the process of social and legislative change within the context of community-based activism, “From Barrio to ‘¡Boicoteo!’” provides insight into the subtle nuances and complex interaction of organizations, individuals, and socio-economic circumstances that come together to make change.


Ernest Rodriguez, John Terronez, Henry Vargas, League of United Latin American Citizens Council 10, Davenport Catholic Interracial Council, Mexican Americans - Iowa - political activity, Mexican Americans - Iowa - social conditions

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

Annals of Iowa, 68:3 (summer 2009), pp. 215-254.


© The State Historical Society of Iowa, 2009 . Posted by permission.