On Thursday, there'll be a screening of "Salt of the Earth," a heralded documentary about a zinc mine strike, made in 1953 by a team that included blacklisted Jewish filmmakers and Latino activists from L.A. On Saturday, a panel discussion-concert, "Latinos and Landslayt," will delve into the common Eastside labor and folk traditions of Jews and Latinos.
"There's definitely a tradition of shared space and history," (Tomas) Benitez agrees. That history is complex and sometimes murky, alternately characterized by passion and apathy, empathy and ignorance. But while often overshadowed by other inter-ethnic relationships--black-Jewish, black-Korean--the interface of Los Angeles' Latino and Jewish communities has played an important role in everything from local Latino political empowerment to the struggle for fair housing and employment laws.
By the time the next City Council election came around in 1949, CSO had registered some 15,000 new Latino voters in the 9th District. Meanwhile, the Jewish-led unions (including the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which had hired Hope Mendoza, the first Latina organizer in Los Angeles) got behind CSO and (Ed) Roybal. With strong backing from labor, Jews and Latinos, Roybal defeated longtime liberal incumbent Parley P. Christiansen, ushering in a new era in Los Angeles politics.