Latinos and Seattle's civil rights history

This page is a gateway to the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project resources for exploring the civil rights activism of Latnos in the Pacific Northwest. Included are activist oral histories, research reports, newspaper reports, photographic collections, maps, historical documents
Slide Show: Raza Si! Chicano Activism in Washington State, 1965-today a powerpoint slide show introduces the history of the Chicano Movement. Includes video interview excerpts.
Activist Oral Histories  Click to learn more about these activists and watch video excerpts of their oral history interviews. 
Acevez, Pedro
Born in Wapato, Washington, Pedro Acevez was part of the first contingent of Chicano students to enroll at the University of Washington. He served as President of MEChA de UW and helped organize farm workers in the Yakima Valley as part of a United Farm Workers campaign in the early 1970s.
Aguayo, Emilio
An artist and one of the first Chicano muralists in Washington State, Aguayo attended UW in the late 1960s and was active in both the Chicano and farm workers movements. His murals, including several at the University, remain key symbols of the Chicano movement that transformed the state and the university.
Alaniz, Yolanda
The daughter of farm workers, Yolanda Alaniz was active in MEChA, the Brown Berets, the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women, in addition to writing for the UW Daily on Chicana issues. She now works as an archivist, preserving Chicano/a history.
Aragon, Teresa
Theresa Aragon came to Seattle in 1968 to complete her PhD at UW. She soon became involved in efforts to create a Chicano Studies program, serving as interim director of that program in 1971. Off campus she served on Governor's Advisory Committee on Mexican American Affairs.
Bocanegra, Juan Jose
Born in Mexico, raised in Texas, Juan Bocanegra moved to Seattle in 1971 to earn a graduate degree at UW. He quickly became active in the Chicano movement on campus and in the community, including the establishment of El Centro de la Raza. He also participated in the American Indian Movement struggles.
Gallegos, Sidney
Sydney Gallegos was born into a farming family in northern New Mexico. In 1969, Gallegos came to Seattle to attend UW. One of the founders of MEChA, he was also active in El Teatro del Pioja, a guerrilla theater group. After earning his degree in dentristy, Dr. Gallegos helped found the Seattle chapter of the National Chicano Health Organization.
Gamboa, Erasmo
As a student at the University of Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s Erasmo Gamboa was a founding member of MEChA, organized the grape boycott in support of farm workers, and was instrumental in establishing the Chicano Studies Program. He later earned his Ph.D and now teaches American Ethnic Studies and U.S. History at UW.
Gamboa, Guadalupe
Guadalupe Gamboa is one of the founders of the United Farm Workers of Washington state. He grew up in the Yakima Valley and has been active in farm worker organizing since the 1960s. A graduate of UW law school, he was also one of the founders of MEChA at UW.
Guillen, Rosalinda
Rosalinda Guillen helped lead the United Farm Workers campaign that resulted in a contract with Chateau Ste. Michelle winery in 1995. A native of Skagit County, she worked in the fields when she was young, then built a successful career as a bank officer. She gave that up to devote herself to farm worker organizing.
Gossett, Larry
Larry Gossett grew up in Seattle's Central District and attended the University of Washington where he co-founded the Black Student Union and helped lead various protests in the late 1960s, including work with Chicano students and the UFW. After serving as Executive Director at CAMP, he was elected to the King County Council, where he now represents the 2nd District.
Gutierrez Kenney, Phyllis
Representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney was one of the first Latinas to hold an elected state office. She served in the legislature from 1997 to 2013. She’s been an advocate for farmworkers and instrumental in passing legislation to assist both Latino and undocumented students to pursue a higher education and training programs for English language learners.
Maestas, Roberto
Co-founder of El Centro de la Raza, Roberto Maestas first became involved in Chicano/ Latino activism in the late 1960s as a teacher at Franklin High School. He helped organize farm workers in the Yakima valley and students at UW and South Seattle Community College before becoming El Centro's Executive Director.

Martinez, Frank and Blanca
Frank Martinez and Blanca Estella met at the UW during the 1970s. Active in MEChA and the farm workers movement, they were also principle actors and organizers of Teatro del Piojo, the activist Chicano theater troup that performed throughout the Pacific Northwest during the 1970s.

Martinez, Ricardo
Judge Martinez grew up in Lynden, WA when his family moved there from Texas. Attending UW in the early 1970s, he was active in MEChA. After earning a law degree, he became a King County deputy prosecutor, a Superior Court judge, and since 2004, a U.S. District Court Judge.
Riojas, Rogelio
Born in Texas and raised in Eastern Washington, Riojas enrolled at UW in 1969 and became a leader of the Chicano movement, active in both MEChA and the Brown Berets. Later earning a degree in Health Administration, he has been the director of the Sea Mar Community Health Centers for the past 28 years.

Rodriguez, Jesus
Jesus Rodriquez was a Chicano movement student leader at Texas Western University (now UTEP) before joining the UW's Chicano Studies program as a graduate student. A student-activist, Rodriquez was an active member of MEChA, the Brown Berets, a co-founder of SeaMar Community Health Centers.

Rosales, Oscar
Oscar Rosales was involved with UW MEChA, El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social and the May 1st Action Coalition during the 2006 immigrant rights movement. Rosales continues to be an organizer for immigration reform and workers’ rights issues in Seattle.
Saldańa, Rebecca
Raised in Seattle, Rebecca Saldana is an activist  and labor organizer. Involved in farmworker solidarity efforts with PCUN and the United Farmworkers, she worked on Fair Trade Apples campaign. Currently she organizes janitors with SEIU Local 6 and is a board member of STITCH.
Sanchez, Ricardo
Ricardo Sanchez was Director of El Concilio for the Spanish Speaking of King County that called attention to the dearth of Latinos hired by the county, organized cultural events, and published a newspaper called La Voz. In 1998, Sanchez founded LEAP, which played an instrumental role in introducing legislation for in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented students.

Sandoval, Tomas and Julia
The Sandovals were part of the first large cohort of Chicanos recruited by the UW in 1968. They were founding members of UMAS and involved with the anti-Vietnam War movement. From 1972 to 1974, Tomas Sandoval was the Director of Activos Mexicanos that provided transition services to Chicanos relocating to Seattle such as emergency housing and job referrals.

Villanueva, Tomas
Founder and past President of the United Farm Workers of Washington state, Tomas Villanueva was 14 when his family immigrated from Mexico, settling in Toppenish three years later.  Since the mid 1960s, he has devoted his life to the struggle to unionize farm workers.

Special Sections:

Research Reports: Here is our growing list of reports

A History of Farm Labor Organizing 1890-2009 by Oscar Rosales Castaneda, Maria Quintana, James Gregory

Long before the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) began organizing in the 1960s, farm workers had been contesting the unique challenges of working in the fields. This report--in ten brief chapters--examines the long history of farm workers in Washington State, focusing on their labor and political activism.

The Chicano Movement in Washington State 1967-2006 by Oscar Rosales Castaneda

This two-part essay traces the history of Chicano political and cultural activism in Washington State. The movement emerged in two locales: in the Yakima Valley, home to most of the state's Latinos, and in Seattle where Chicano students launched many new initiatives. Reflecting the split geography, the movement linked together campaigns to organize and support farmworkers with projects that served urban communities and educational agendas.

La Raza Comes to Campus: The new Chicano contingent and the grape boycott at the University of Washington, 1968-69  by Jeremy Simer

Chicano students at the UW mobilized for the first time  in the fall of 1968.  They formed the United Mexican American Students (UMAS), which joined and soon led a campaign in solidarity with one of the Chicano Movement’s central activities: the boycott of California table grapes in support of the United Farm Worker Organizing Committee (UFWOC), which had been on strike since 1965. The successful boycott made the UW the first campus in the United States to stop selling grapes and turned a small group of Chicano students into a force to be reckoned with.

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