Memories of Chicano History

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In the tradition of Latino oral histories, MEMORIES OF CHICANO HISTORY is more about the times in which Bert Corona lived than about his life. Although the narrative is in the first person, it more often concerns Corona’s associates than Corona himself. He discusses the various labor and community activist groups in which he was involved and the various social issues affecting the Latino community (particularly Mexican Americans), with himself as an example. Emphasis is on the years from the Depression through the 1960’s.

Corona’s is not a typical Mexican American life story, but he manages to universalize his experience. He escaped some discrimination while a child by being sent to private schools, but discrimination was always present. He received a scholarship to USC to play basketball, but the scholarship meant only that the school would help him find a job to pay his tuition. He eventually drifted away from school, attracted by the challenges of labor organizing.

Corona convincingly documents discrimination within the U.S. military services during World War II. His own record marked him as a subversive because of his connections to labor unions. Following World War II, Corona’s activities became more political, though he remained involved in labor organizing. A somewhat hidden message, mentioned by Garcia in the introduction, is that Corona’s political work was made possible in large part by his wife’s paid employment. For...

(The entire section is 430 words.)