Wisconsin cultural contributions

Throughout the large cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay to the smaller communities of Oshkosh and Appleton, Latinos have brought their culture to Wisconsin in the form of landscaping, art, music, and social events. Mexican flags wave over residences and businesses. Back windows display colorful decals of the Virgin de Guadalupe, a popular style in Mexico and throughout the southwestern United States. Even some Wisconsin Wal-Mart stores have a Spanish food section and sell Norteno albums. Numerous Tejano and Norteno bands, many from Chicago, perform at bailas, or dances, in Steven’s Point and Wautoma. These social gatherings offer a familiar space for many Latinos to enjoy common music and dance. Several movie theaters are debuting first-run Hollywood movies in Spanish.

The University of Wisconsin campuses spearheaded numerous cultural events highlighting Latinos. CineFest, at University of Wisconsin at Madison, honored Latino filmmaker Hector Galan and aimed to encourage young Latinos to explore their historical connection to art and cinema.23

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the theater department wrote and performed Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Histo-ria, or Our Voice, Our History.24


1. Research conducted in Wisconsin during the summer of 2005 with migrant workers from Texas and Mexico.

2. Numbers extracted from http://www.census.gov.

3. As stated in the June 11, 2006, article Report says local Latinos need help; many live on society’s margins, which appears in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), local officials believe the Latino population is much higher than what census numbers indicate. Also, some Wisconsin officials believe the Latino population is undercounted because many live collectively and go uncounted by the census, as stated in the August 20, 2006, edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the article Hispanic residents up 23%; Waukesha library adds signs, reading materials in Spanish for patrons.

4. John Gurda, Cultures Blend, Evolve on the Southside, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 7, 2000, 1J.

5. Governor’s Commission on Human Rights, Migratory Agricultural Workers in Wisconsin: A Problem in Human Rights, 1950, preface, 6.

6. Information from report Report for 1966 and 1967 with a summary of earlier developments, from the Governor’s Committee on Migratory Labor.

7. See previous note, page 37.

8. Author interview with Samudio in October 2005 in Weslaco, Texas.

9. See 1962 report, The Migrant Labor Problems in Wisconsin, page 7.

10. Author interviews throughout Wautoma in June and July 2005. The ensuing stories appeared in the newspaper Monitor (McAllen, TX) in September 2005 and the State Journal (Madison, WI) in October 2005.

11. In 1969, Wautoma’s state assemblyman, Jon Wilcox, was quoted in the Waushara Argus, saying that with Jesus Salas in charge of UMOS, the organization would turn into a militant agitation group with partisan philosophy and illegal picketing at the taxpayer’s expense.

12. Author interview with Lupe Martinez in Milwaukee in June 2005, and via telephone in November 2006.

13. There is a passage about the change of administration in the 40-year timeline that appears in the UMOS online pamphlet. In an interview with the author in November 2006, Martinez also discussed the change of administration.

14. Letter provided by Alcario Samudio in an October 2005 interview, Weslaco, Texas.

15. Author interview with Martinez, November 2006.

16. As stated in the evening article by the Associated Press on May 1, 2006, Milwaukee police would not give an estimate of people marching this day. However, local organizations estimated the tens of thousands of participants could have equaled about 70,000.

17. See http://www.unitedwaydanecounty.org for complete report.

18. Pat Schneider, Migrants Face Hard, Low-Paid Life, Study Finds, Capital Times, October 12, 1999, 1C

19. Hispanic-owned business up 24 percent in Wisconsin, the Post-Crescent (Appleton), April 2, 2006.

20. Data from the University of Wisconsin System Informational Memorandum for the freshman class entering in fall 2005; from the http://www.wisconsin.edu homepage.

21. Regent Resigns, Slams Real I.D. Program, Badger Herald, October 29, 2007, http://badgerherald.com/news/2007/10/29/regent_resigns_slams.php.

22. Movies in Spanish Find Audience Here, Capital Times, August 25, 2007, http://www.madison.com/tct/news/207183.

23. Barbara Wolff, Festival Celebrates Latino Film, Culture, Stories, October 7, 2003, http://www.news.wisc.edu/9022 (accessed August 29, 2007).

24. Hispanic Community Matures, Defines Itself, Journal Sentinel, August 26, 2007, http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=651902 (accessed August 29, 2007).

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