The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend: The Development of Multicultural Democratic Coalitions in Texas

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

The concept dates back to the third century B.C. it is a sacrifice of ideological purity and an embrace of pragmatism. Max Krochmal's book "Blue Texas" recounts the historical development of multicultural democratic coalitions in Texas during the civil rights era. Groups of differing racial backgrounds, nationalities, and economic classes foster alliances in an attempt to create a more democratic society. However, there is a pattern of differing ideologies and a refusal to compromise within these coalitions that repeatedly slowed the progression of liberalism in Texas.

The Formation of Multiracial Alliances

By the mid 1930s ethnic Mexican and African American working persons throughout Texas, after years of fighting discrimination both in their unions and work as well as the cities in which they lived independently, timidly and quietly approached each other for support. The white laborers union was also approached. However, because of the repression brought by the cold war, the efforts progressed in different ways even though a lot of organizers readdressed their activism to new channels. New systems of multiracial alliances began to take hold in the late 1950s, pragmatically, after the realization that even though they had vast ethnical disparities, they were better off working together again, and so the common suspicion gave way to shared trust particularly in San Antonio (Max, 76). Separately, black and brown activists continued to establish strong civil rights movements that embraced equal economic opportunities, integration and independent political power. As the discrete civil and labor rights movements overlapped, the collaborations expanded gradually from the union halls and ghettos to a state-wide coalition that supported the agenda of an expansive civil rights and liberal politicians. They however encountered strong opposition from their own ethnic group members whose ideological views clashed with the coalitions’ pragmatism leading to the co-existence of the stretched intra-ethnic conflict and the efforts of coalition activists to forge inter-ethnic collaborations.

Discrepancies and Lessons Learned

In many cases, discrepancies in tactics, political philosophies and class mattered just as much as ethnicity ties and this was a lesson the activists learnt experimentally (Max 101). Slowly, after countless conflicts over a couple of decades, the activists separated from their counterparts who were more conservative looking to the multiracial coalitions as a key strategy to outwit their intra-ethnic opponents this presenting another clash between pragmatism and ideological purity . White liberals and organized labor meanwhile, in their quest to take charge of the Democratic Party from the more conservative wing, were seeking allies. By the 1960s, a conclusion was reached that both brown and black voters were vital to the white liberals success and so began their gradual transition to organizing civil right with the aim of building coalition with both the black and brown civil rights actions. And so after decades of fiddling in experimental partnerships and fighting separately, African American, ethnic Mexican, liberal activists and white laborers came together finally, into a great statewide Democratic Coalition overcoming immense ideological purity. The joint drive for civil rights, political power and economic opportunity got to a fever pitch between 1962 and 1964 and as a result, immense door-to-door electoral initiatives, direct action protests- the greatest in the state’s history and the ever growing assurance by labor for community organizing.

The Last Bravo for the Statewide Coalition

In 1966 came the last bravo for the statewide coalition posing yet another and strong conflict between pragmatism and ideological purity beginning in the valley as the melon harvest farms were struck by hundreds of migrant farmworkers in Starr County (Max 217). In a typical response, the south Texas growers ordered for the intimidation of the strikers by the Texas Rangers as the migrant farmworker union’s leaders tried to help solve the conflict. Even though the farm workers faced constant intimidation and harassment from the growers, they opted to stay out on strike. When one of the own, a small ethnic Mexican farmer, decided to recognize the union, he was quickly debarred from the association of growers and also prohibited from using its marketing, shipping and supply chain routes. The farmworkers union organizers together with the hundreds of striking workers launched a march to the capitol in Austin on the 4th of July in order to address the stretched fight. The march grew in momentum that even those who opposed demonstration like Dr. Hector Garcia joined them on the streets. Two other ethic Mexican minsters also joined the march giving it a sense of religious and moral validity to the course (Max, 327). Even so, many other people and churches that were passed along the way refused to join in or offer food, shelter and even water fearing the grower’s retaliation. One of the churches that refused to join was the Catholic Church even though a great number of the marchers belonged to their archdiocese.


Krochmal, Max. Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era. , 2016. Print. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, [2016]

November 13, 2023

Government Sociology

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