These efforts crystallized in two initiatives. One was the Migrant Action Program, which assisted in the creation of the Nebraska Association of Farm Workers. The other was the establishment of a Western Office in Scottsbluff to provide “direct services” to the community. Initiatives in these and other areas of concern provided an anchor of legitimacy and accountability.
By 1980 the Commission felt assured that it has established a clear record of success as an agency of service and advocacy for the Hispanic community. Ironically, this record became the catalyst for criticism that threatened to bring about the institutions demise. This challenged not only MAC but also the idea of institutionalized advocacy in Nebraska.
Read more about this in History Nebraska’s 2019 Spring issue with articles entitled Mexican Community Formation In Nebraska by Bryan Winston and Service Not Power: Advocacy and the Nebraska Commission on Mexican-American by Roger Davis.
Mexican immigrants created a regional community throughout the state through urban-rural migrations, social and cultural activities, and their regional Mexican consulate. They faced obstacles similar to those faced by other immigration throughout the Midwest, plus others that came from being seen as racially distinct.
Mexican persistence during the 1920s and 1930s laid the foundation for the future generation of ethnic Mexican and Latina/os to gain access to economic and political capital in Nebraska. Most telling is the establishment of the Mexican American Commission (MAC) in 1972, now known as the Latino American Commission.
Nebraska became the first state to establish a statutory agency specifically charged with advocacy on behalf of its Hispanic population. Through its founding and early years, MAC struggled to find its proper role and purpose. Over the years it worked diligently, under directors Stan Porras and then Peter Urdiales, to enhance its reputation and provide needed services to the Hispanic community.
Mexican mother and children with a visiting nurse, Omaha, May 19, 1926