Recovering a Lost History

Mexican Americans have been in Grand Rapids, MI since the mid-1920s, but there history in the city is not well known. This is an attempt to start digitally recording the historical presence of Mexican Americans in West Michigan. The slides that follow show some of the most common geographical and local places that Mexican Americans frequented in Grand Rapids; the issues they faced when settling in Grand Rapids; and highlight some of the city’s earliest Mexican American leaders. After a brief explanation of Mexican Americans’ racial positionality, the topics we cover include labor, migration, gender, class, policing, night life, and discrimination.

Students in History of Mexicans in the United States at Michigan State University compiled this data on the following pages under the guidance of Professor Delia Fernández. Some of the information in this project can be found in Dr. Fernández’s forthcoming book and publications:

“Rethinking the Urban and Rural Divide in Latino Labor, Recreation, and Activism in West Michigan, 1940s-1970s” Labor History 57, no 4. (2016): 482-503.

“Becoming Latino: Mexican and Puerto Rican Community Formation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1926-1964,” Michigan Historical Review 39, no.1 (2013): 71-100.