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Panel discussion and book signing Power Shift: Latino political power and its impact

March 20 @ 10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Panel discussion led by Dr. Raphael J. Sonenshein– Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at CSU Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | 5:30 p.m.

State Playhouse
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032

Please respond by Friday, March 15, 2019 to confirm your attendance and receive parking information.

Power Shift charts the rise of Latino political power and its impact, from the breakthrough election of the first Mexican American to the Los Angeles City Council in 1949 to today’s leadership of California and its heavyweight role in polarized America. This inspiring story recounts the origins and development of 10 LA-based Latino and Latina leaders who transformed politics and government, forging a progressive political tradition in the process. Challenging disadvantage and discrimination, these key figures integrated the city council as well as school and county boards; established Latino collective political action in the state Legislature and in Congress; restructured the U.S. Census and how California’s electoral districts are drawn; and played major roles in reforming the Democratic Party, the U.S. labor movement, and U.S.-Mexico relations. Along the way, they spearheaded critical changes in public health, law enforcement, education, housing, immigration, transportation, environmental policies, and more. Based on hundreds of hours of oral interviews and expert research, Power Shift tells a personal, gripping story that has critical relevance to our political present. As the nation faces ongoing threats to democracy and equality, these leaders continue to inspire and resist.

Masterfully written, Power Shift shows how Latinos in California, in their quest for the American dream, developed the political and economic might to transform politics in what is now the world’s fifth-largest economy. Pla and Ayón’s remarkable historical account is designed to educate and engage a new generation facing one of the greatest challenges to our democracy in the devastating aftermath of Trump’s election. This is a much-needed book.

Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative for California’s 43rd Congressional District

Here’s the real story of how Latinos turned big numbers into real power. California is, in many ways, an experiment. Latino leaders are flexing California’s newfound political muscle as the state has become a symbol of the resistance to Trump. Cesar Chavez was right when he said, ‘We’ve looked into the future and the future is ours.’ This inspiring and insightful book explains how we got here and why America will look more and more like California and more like us.

Jorge Ramos, News Anchor, Univision and author of
Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era

Power Shift takes you inside an epic story of our times, capturing what George Pla calls ‘California’s Latino political genius,’ a force for progress in America that could only have arisen in Los Angeles. I know because I was there and had the privilege of both seeing and being part of some of the transformations that Latino leadership based in LA contributed to expanding Civil Rights, empowering LA s Eastside, and integrating labor and Democratic Party politics. The ‘progressive Latino political tradition’ shaped through the efforts of leaders portrayed in this book is working today to defend and advance American democracy, even at this difficult time in our nation’s history.

Mickey Kantor, former Secretary of Commerce and
U.S. Trade Representative

Deeply researched and filled with stories and historical details that will surprise and inform even the most experienced observers, Power Shift is the definitive account of the rise of Latino politics in Los Angeles and California. Neatly weaving between timelines and personalities, Ayón and Pla never shy away from the conflicts and tensions that characterized this evolution but they also note that the ‘Latino century’ is open to all comers. This is a compelling and important read that both captures the past and provides a blueprint to a more inclusive future.

Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and author of State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America’s Future

The rising prominence of the Latino community in California politics is quite possibly the most important driver of California’s transformation from a red to blue state. And yet, until now the story has not been told with the insight and detail that it deserves. Ayón and Pla have done a masterful job of weaving the story together in an entertaining and insightful way.

Bruce E. Cain, Charles Louis Ducommun Professor in Humanities
and Sciences at Stanford University and author of Democracy More or Less: America’s Political Reform Quandary

Through engaging, deeply researched profiles of key figures in Latino politics, Ayón and Pla tell the critical story of California politics in the twenty-first century: the rise of Latino power at the ballot box and in the halls of government. Power Shift is both an important piece of historical research and a great read. It’s the story of a transformation that has already changed politics in America’s largest state and that will soon change the nation.

Lisa García Bedolla,  UC Berkley Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies


March 20
10:30 am - 1:00 pm
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California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032 United States


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