The Chicano Movement in Kansas

Washburn University
  • Valerie Mendoza, Independent Public Historian

This project consists of oral histories of Kansas Chicano Movement leaders from the 1970s.These activists drew inspiration from the national Chicano Movement and their initiatives impacted the Kansas Latinx population in ways that reverberate to this day in the areas of civil rights, educational opportunities and voting power. Goals of the project are to learn the motivation for participation in various projects, what types of activities were conducted during the 1970s and 1980s, fill a gap in Kansas history, and develop a fuller narrative of the national Chicano Movement which has only been told from a southwestern perspective. The project will also develop a timeline of Chicano Movement activities and outcomes in Kansas during the 70s and 80s. Oral histories will provide a much fuller picture of the organization than archival work alone and are crucial to this project as Chicano Movement activists are in their late 70s and 80s. Interviews will be conducted with founding members of LULAC Council 11071 in Topeka, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City and other individuals around the state.

Partner Details

  • Valerie Mendoza

    Independent Public Historian


    Valerie M. Mendoza received her Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the history of the Latinx community in Kansas and the Midwest. She is a Topeka native with community roots in the Bottoms. For the last year she served as host of the Big Idea, a monthly discussion sponsored by Humanities Kansas featuring African American scholars from around the state. Her talk, “Beyond Brown: Mexican Responses Before and After Brown v Board” was recently chosen to be part of the Humanities Kansas Speakers Bureau. In addition, the Kansas State Historical Society contracted with her to conduct focus groups with the Latinx community throughout the state as part of their Engaging Communities project. Dr. Mendoza was recently invited by the Kansas Oral History Project to serve on the Advisory Panel for Diversity in Public Policy Making.