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Across Races and Nations

Across Races & Nations:  Building New Communities in the U.S. South

Spiral bound        

370 pages             

English and Spanish           

$25.00 + shipping

To order: 901.678-2770 or email

The Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis published a report in the fall of 2006 which focused on Latino immigration and the changing racial-ethnic dynamics of the South.  Entitled “Across Races & Nations: Building New Communities in the U.S. South,” the report was released at a time of escalating debate in Tennessee and across the nation about immigration policy. “The report contains invaluable information for activists, philanthropists and others who seek to understand immigration and address the needs of Latino immigrants as part of larger social justice agendas,” commented Dr. Barbara Ellen Smith, former Director of the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis and Project Director for Across Races and Nations. 

“The number of Hispanics living in the Southern United States has exploded since the mid-1990s. In Tennessee, the Mexican-born population grew at a faster rate between 1990 and 2000 than in any other state,” Smith noted.
The legal status of immigrants and the presence of this new Latino ethnic group can be sources of conflict in local communities. “We found tensions among workers about the jobs that immigrants access, and discomfort among some long-term residents about the presence of Spanish-speakers in public spaces,” Smith said. “However, we also found many Southerners who were committed to incorporating new immigrants into their communities.”

The report is the product of a five-year collaboration between three southern research and education centers: the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee, the Southern Regional Council (SRC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Center for Research on  Women (CROW) at the University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.  

“This project was born from our Centers’ common desire to better understand both the experiences of new Latino immigrants as they arrive in and adapt to the South, and the attitudes of more long-term residents toward new immigrants,” says Susan Williams, education coordinator of The Highlander Research and Education Center and Across Races & Nations project collaborator. “Our overall goals were to identify areas of potential conflict as well as collaboration among different groups, and to encourage multi-racial efforts to address common needs.”

The 370 page report (written in both English and Spanish) is divided into three sections.

The Introduction provides overviews of both the project and the participating organizations, an analysis of the internal challenges faced in such a long-term, multi-state collaboration, along with brief histories of Latino immigration and the legacy of race and racism in the region.

Case Studies provide snapshots of racial/ethnic rivalry and solidarity, job competition and tensions in the workplace, and descriptions of successful collaborations across racial and ethnic lines throughout the South.

The report’s final section is a collection of valuable resources including glossaries of U.S. immigration terms and policies; how to find, hire and work successfully with, interpreters; economic fact sheets; U.S. Constitutional Rights; an overview of anti-immigrant organizing in the United States; “Know Your Rights” workshop guides for immigrants; and a variety of other materials for popular education. 

Support for “Across Races & Nations” was generously provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

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Last Updated: 2/24/14