Char MillerDec 2, 2022
West Side Rising
How San Antonio's 1921 Flood Devastated a City and Sparked a Latino Environmental Justice Movement
Maverick Books 2022
On September 9, 1921, a tropical storm raged above San Antonio, Texas. The rain that night flooded the city's many waterways, distributing unequal destruction throughout its many neighborhoods. For the whiter, wealthier, parts of the city, the flood was an inconvenient detriment to business. For the Latinx West Side, it was a devastating tragedy.
In West Side Rising: How San Antonio's 1921 Flood Devastated a City and Sparked a Latino Environmental Justice Miller (Maverick Books, 2021), Pomona College professor Char Miller explains why this flood happened, what made it so devastating, and how it galvanized a community activist movement that remade San Antonio politics. Miller uses never-before analyzed sources to explain how flood control and urban redevelopment left the city's most vulnerable population behind in the disaster's aftermath, and how this blatant environmental racism formed the nuclear of several generations of environmental activist organizations. By taking the story of 1921 into the twenty-first century, Miller argues that a story that could be told as simple tragedy in fact represents the best in the human spirit, as people band together to aid one another and seize power for themselves.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.