Research Update: First Ladies and the Latine Community

Hello Everyone! For this week’s update, I will be sharing a bit on the progress of my research project! Over the past few weeks, I have been exploring the public and social lives of the First Ladies, as well as their campaign efforts. For the research project, I am analyzing to what extent the First Lady’s campaign efforts were oriented toward mobilizing the Latino community.

Inspired by a political science course I took last semester which covered Latino organization and mobilization in response to executive legislation, I wanted to see if the First Ladies encouraged policy changes, or helped rally the Latino community in any way. Unfortunately, this topic is not widely researched, so I am mainly conducting original research. Fortunately, thanks to the unconditional support and guidance from my supervisor and coworkers, compounded with access to the National First Ladies Library, I have the direction and reassurance I need to complete this project.

Over these past two weeks, I have taken a slight pause in the research process to work on my First Ladies and Pride popup for Saturday, give tours of the Saxton House, attend Farmers Markets, and participate in an Audience-Centered Interpretation training. Photos down below!

At the moment, it has been particularly challenging to find information on the First Ladies’ campaign efforts/opinions on issues majorly affecting the Latine community in particular. Most of the information I have found is about their travels to Latin American countries for honeymoons, meetings, and receptions, and less about their efforts on policies and campaign strategies. However, I did find a few exceptions. For instance, during her husband’s presidential campaign, Jacqueline Kennedy spoke in Spanish for an ad to address the largely Spanish-speaking Latin American community in the US. In regards to public policy, I am finding that some first ladies have influenced and championed policies addressing immigration and citizenship, some of the most pressing issues facing the majority of Latin American individuals to this day. For example, in 2018 she wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post, where she openly criticized President Trump’s Zero Tolerance Immigration policy, where any adult who came into the United States without permission, was prosecuted by the Department of Justice, and if they had families, their children were separated from them Their children were aided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and scattered into different refugee Resettlement Shelters across the country. Many children were not reunited with their parents, due to the lack of a framework for uniting families. Deeply angered by this, the Former First Lady remarked, “Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso.” She continues, “We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance,” she writes. “If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place.” Her remarks affirm her legacy of advocating for children, whether that be in Rwanda during the AIDS/HIV crisis, or in the classroom, and question the morality of American immigration policies.

Some topics I want to look more into include:

  • I would like to study more recent First Ladies and their views on any policies that impact Latinos, such as the Dreamers ACT.
  • I plan to review the 1965 Immigrant Nationality Act, the 2005-6 Sensenbrenner Bill proposal, Bracero Project 1942, DACA 2012, Dreamers Act 2020, and other transformative immigrant legislation.
  • I want to see if any Latino activist organizations including UnidosUS or LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) had any interactions or endorsements by the First Ladies.

Looking ahead, I first need to clarify my research question and narrow my scope, looking specifically at First Ladies’ campaign strategies towards Latino individuals and their actions in addressing issues of particular importance to the Latino community, however, those may be defined.

I look forward to continuing to pursue my research and discovering more about First Ladies’ and their often unheard yet important impacts. Also, I would like to give a special appreciation to FILA and my supervisor and coworkers, who always get me to smile, and have all helped make this a wonderful environment to spend my summer:) I can’t wait to create more special memories with them!

Now some pictures from my first 6 weeks!!

Have a great day,

Amelia Proweller

First community engagement event of the internship! Tabling at North Canton Farmers’ Market
Our tent at Canton’s First Pickle Festival!
At the Pickle Fest
Photo credits: My Father
No Comments

Post A Comment