Texas Institute of Letters Selects “Quest for Equality” as Most Significant Scholarly Book for 2010

Equality_webHistorian Neil Foley’s book, “Quest for Equality: The Failed Promise of Black-Brown Solidarity” (Harvard University Press, May 2010) was selected by the Texas Institute of Letters as the most significant scholarly book for 2010.

“Quest for Equality” examines the complicated relationship between African Americans and Mexican Americans in Texas and California during World War II and the post-war era.

Named by the Huffington Post as one of the 17 “best political and social awareness books of 2010, “Quest for Equality” provides a historical context for understanding many of the issues that divide Latinos and African Americans today.

In 2003, the census announced that Hispanics had become the nation’s largest minority group, while the percentage of African Americans had declined in many cities. This includes seven of the 10 largest cities in the United States — New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio.

As a result, the book addresses: Will Latinos displace African Americans from positions of power locally? And what are the prospects for black-brown coalition politics when more than half of all Hispanics identify themselves as “white” in the 2010 census?

Today African Americans and Latinos have found common ground over issues such as de facto school segregation, unequal school financing, immigration reform, racial profiling, redlining, and the prison-industrial complex — challenges, Foley argues that remain central concerns of contemporary American life.

Foley is an associate professor in the Department of History and American Studies. He was honored at the Texas Institute of Letters’ annual awards banquet in Dallas on April 30. The Texas Institute of Letters was established in 1936 during the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas to foster and promote Texas literature. The state’s oldest literary organization, it has held competitions for outstanding achievements in literature since 1939.

Spotlight on Dobie Paisano Fellow Diane Wilson

Activist, fisherwoman, mother….Diane Wilson has been called by many names, but the one she was always reluctant to give herself was author. In fact, her 93-year old mother once told her that if she ever actually got a book published, she would stand on her head in the middle of traffic.

Two highly acclaimed books later, the self-taught writer can add another moniker to her list…Paisano Fellow. The Dobie Paisano Fellowship, sponsored by The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters supports writers while they live and work at the Paisano Ranch – J. Frank Dobie’s 254-acre retreat just outside of Austin.

“My feet have still not touched the ground,” says Wilson of her reaction to the recent announcement of her award. Born and raised in Seadrift, Texas, she was thrilled with the validation she felt as a writer with her selection as the Paisano Fellow starting in June, 2010.

Author of “An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas” and “Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down Drag Out; or How I Quit Loving a Blue Eyed Jesus,” Wilson has received critical acclaim from the likes of Rick Bass, Molly Ivans and Garrison Keillor. “Holy Roller” was recently awarded an honorable mention by the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

Wilson plans to spend her time at the Paisano Ranch writing about a topic close to her heart – fishermen and the sea. She is particularly looking forward to the solitude and time to reflect and to write during her stay. We can look forward to the results.

And by the way, despite the fact that Wilson is currently working on her third book, she has yet to collect on that promise from her mother.