The Latina/o Mennonite Quest for Community and Civil Rights
This chapter follows the stories of Latinas/os who joined the Mennonite Church during the middle part of the twentieth century. While a relatively small Protestant denomination, the Mennonite Church is especially strong across the Midwest, from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes region. This chapter argues that religion served as an important platform for Latina/o civil rights movements in the Midwest. Religious activism in particular was an important part of the larger project of community formation for Latina/o migrants who were making the Midwest their new home. The quest for civil rights included building an interethnic alliance between Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans, which organized in 1968 and called itself the Minority Ministries Council (MMC). This group helped organize a K-12 educational program that created a pathway for black and brown youth to attend Mennonite schools. While these movements were for the most part dominated by Latino men, Latinas created their own spaces by organizing conferences that brought together women from across the country. This flurry of activity led to an unprecedented rise of Latinas/os within the Mennonite Church. In a span of about ten years, Latinas/os went from zero representation on national Mennonite Church boards to having Latinos and Latinas on every major church board from the East Coast to the Midwest.
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