Antonio Ramirez, assistant professor of history and political science at Elgin Community College, was awarded an inaugural Elevating Equity Grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation for his Chicagolandia: Oral Histories of Chicago's Latinx Suburbs project. The $5,000 grant will fund the project's website and the hosting of a public event next spring.
The project focuses on the oral histories of Latinx living in the Chicago suburbs from 1960 to the present. The project engages questions of race, citizenship, and equality at the nexus of two fields of scholarship—suburban history and Latinx studies—to examine how this community navigated and helped shape the suburbs, a critical site of economic opportunity and political power in the postwar United States.
"More Latinx live in Chicago suburbs, especially in Elgin, than any other region of the Midwest," said Ramirez. "This project aims to address cultural inequity in the storytelling of Elgin's history by documenting the everyday lives, work, and contributions of our Latinx communities and making them available to the public on the website and through a public event."
Ramirez has spent the last two years collecting stories and photographs of Latinx from the region. He started with some of the custodial staff at ECC and expanded to collect stories throughout the suburbs.
The Elevating Equity grant focuses on supporting innovative grassroots-led projects addressing systemic inequity, including racial inequity, in Elgin. In 2019, Ramirez received a Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Faculty Fellowship to launch the project. To learn more about the project or to submit your own story, visit Chicagolandia Oral History Project Website.