Empowering Immigrant Community Leaders through Democratic Social Movements

Immigration Talk

In a country where upper-middle class interests often dominate formal electoral politics, social movements are becoming increasingly more important in empowering voices of immigrants and working-class community members. Facing a history of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression, the social movements of the 1990’s began to take on a new character in which they became more focused on educating and engaging community members as leaders to establish multiracial coalitions and focus on working-class interests. During the 1980’s, the service sector in Los Angeles expanded and many immigrants found themselves taking low-wage jobs that had very few benefits and were often de-unionized. Essentially, these workers had very little power and voice to implement change, however through movements that emphasized their personal lived experiences, they began to become empowered as activists and leaders within their communities. In reshaping and working toward improving democracy, influential activists such as Suyapa Portillo Villeda helped change the lives…

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