Who is Bert Corona? Though not readily identified by most Americans, nor indeed by many Mexican Americans, Corona is a man of enormous political commitment whose activism has spanned much of this century. Now his voice can be heard by the wide audience it deserves. In this landmark publicationthe first autobiography by a major figure in Chicano historyBert Corona relates his life story.
Corona was born in El Paso in 1918. Inspired by his parents' participation in the Mexican Revolution, he dedicated his life to fighting economic and social injustice. An early labor organizer among ethnic communities in southern California, Corona has agitated for labor and civil rights since the 1940s. His efforts continue today in campaigns to organize undocumented immigrants.
This book evolved from a three-year oral history project between Bert Corona and historian Mario T. García. The result is a testimonio, a collaborative autobiography in which historical memories are preserved more through oral traditions than through written documents. Corona's story represents a collective memory of the Mexican-American community's struggle against discrimination and racism. His narration and García's analysis together provide a journey into the Mexican-American world.
Bert Corona's reflections offer us an invaluable glimpse at the lifework of a major grass-roots American leader. His story is further enriched by biographical sketches of others whose names have been little recorded during six decades of American labor history.
The narrative of Corona's work as a Mexican American labor organizer reflects some five decades of struggles, setbacks, and successes. Beginning with the union movement of the 1930s, Corona traces his experience in organizing workers and communities as they confronted large corporate interests backed by the government agenices that served them. The uphill battle to win economic and political recognition is recounted in a straightforward manner, free of rancor. Indeed, Corona's model for success is founded on cooperation, ethnic pride of accomplishment, and optimistic determination. As an oral history conducted by Garcia (the result is billed as a collaborative autobiography), the story conveys a sense of the ``collective self''--a testimonial of one member of a community. Recommended for collections emphasizing labor history and Chicano studies.-- Charles E. Perry, East Central Univ., Ada, Okla.