Finding Home in the Sunbelt: A Study Of Salvadoran Activism In Houston 1980-1999.
Martinez Alvarenga, Manuel
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The decade of the 1980s witnessed an unprecedented migration wave from Central America to the United States. Migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala made their way north, seeking to escape the worsening living conditions in their war-torn countries and settled in cities like Houston creating far-reaching demographic changes. This Honors Thesis centers the activism of the Salvadoran migrant community in Houston during the decades of the 1980s and 1990s to explore the deep connection shared between Houston based religious groups and Central American migrant activists. By analyzing Oral histories from Salvadoran migrants that lived in Houston in the 1980s, media portrayals of migrant groups and organizations in Houston, and archived documents from the Rothko Chapel, I highlight the narratives surrounding the unlikely cooperation between Houston based religious organizations and Dominque de Menil with Central American aid groups and individuals that were connected to leftist guerrillas in El Salvador. In so doing, this work presents a new perspective regarding Houston’s history of migrant communal and political activism, along with the formation of the sanctuary movement and the larger Central American diaspora in the United States.