1940's Los Angeles
In the summer of 1943, Los Angeles erupted in violence. The city, a major training and transit point for military personnel, saw itself on the front lines of the war in the Pacific. Sailors, soldiers, and marines in the area read in the L.A. press about the war overseas, and the war against Mexican "pachuco" gangs at home.
More and more, people believed Mexican American youths were predisposed to criminality. These notions were encouraged by sensationalistic news reports and an overaggressive police department. At the time, many Mexican American teens were challenging the unwritten codes of prejudice. Those who wore the zoot suit-- an outrageous, attention-grabbing fashion -- knew they were placing themselves in the public eye. What they learned from the Zoot Suit Riots, however, was that self-expression can come with a heavy price.
1940's Los Angeles (56k)
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View an animated census map showing the Hispanic population of Los Angeles County over time, courtesy of Professor Philip J. Ethington of the University of Southern California.
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