Zoot Suit Riots - Groupfusion.net


Zoot Suit Riots - Groupfusion.net
Zoot Suit Riots
What Caused the Zoot Suit Riots?
Warm up:
Why would
servicemen be
offended by the
“Zoot Suits?”
Consider what
Americans were
being asked to do
on the Homefront
during WWII
Mexican- Americans
• During the Mexican revolution (1910-1920) One
million people emigrated from Mexico to the
Southwestern states. These emigrants combined
with the descendents of Mexicans who arrived
before 1848.
• By the late 1930’s, there were 3 million
Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the
United States.
• Los Angeles had the largest Mexican-American
community in the United States.
• Mexican American urban youth had formed
styles of speech and dress tat were neither
traditionally Mexican or traditionally American
• Zoot suits were worn by some urban youth and
were popular with Mexican Americans
• In the 1940’s Mexican Americans continued to
face racial segregation in schooling, housing,
movie theaters, restaurants, swimming pools,
and more. They also faced severe discrimination
in employment and the criminal justice system
• This discrimination was particularly strong in the
Southwestern states
Even the media was discriminatory,
stating that young Mexican American
men were preying upon white women
1940’s WWII
• Mexican Americans did serve in the military and
were not segregated from white units
• Many Mexican Americans worked in factories
and on farms.
• Mexican American women worked on railroad
jobs that were considered “Men’s work” before
the war.
• The Bacero Program allowed Mexican workers
to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to fill the large
agricultural labor shortage during World War II
(started in 1942).
Bacero Program
Bacero Program
The Zoot Suit Riots started in Los Angeles
• The Mexican-American community was angered
by the civil rights violations that occurred during
the Sleepy Lagoon trial.
• A Mexican-American teen was found dead and
presumed to be murdered. The L.A. police
arrested 600 Mexican American teens and
detained them.
• 22 Mexican American teens were found guilty in
a trial which violated their rights to due process.
Sleepy Lagoon Trial Arrests
Zoot Suit Riots
• The majority of servicemen and women
stationed in Los Angeles were white
• Many were offended by the excessiveness of
the zoot suit.
• “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”
• Many servicemen went into L.A. hunting Zoot
Suiters and beating them.
Zoot Suit Riots
• Rioting occurred in May and June 1943 in los
• Thousands of servicemen participated in the
attacks in which Mexican American youths
were beaten, targets of racial slurs, and
stripped of their zoot suits. Some Filipino
and African- American zoot suiters were also
Zoot Suit Riots
• The police arrested more than 500 Mexican
• The United States military was slow to act. They
eventually made Los Angeles off-limits to
servicemen, but, rarely enforced the ban.
• The need to ensure the an agricultural labor
supply turned out to be the U.S. government’s
main concern in responding to the Zoot Suit
Bacero Program
Examine the
documents and tell the
world the answer to
this question:
What Caused the Zoot
Suit Riots?