Minority Cause Lawyers and Civil Rights Activism: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)

by Benjamin Marquez

Jan 1, 2014
I received a travel grant from the Rockefeller Archive Center to conduct research at its archives from July 8th to July 19th 2013. I am writing a new book on the political history of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), 1968 to the present. This new study builds on my interests in social movements, political participation, ethnic identity and political power. It expands into new areas by studying the activities and influence of an organization that claims to speak on behalf of a racial and ethnic minority but has no dues paying members, is run by a professional staff and receives virtually all of its funding from philanthropic sources and settlement fees when the group prevails in court. At the same time, the organization has its roots in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s where its founders wanted to create an organization that would serve as the legal arm of a disruptive social movement organization.
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