In 1963 Dionicio Morales, the son of Mexican American farmworkers, founded the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF)
in East Los Angeles to better the lives of Mexican American families by providing services such as education and job training.
MAOF has endured and prospered for nearly five decades, working in partnership with government entities, organized labor,
private foundations, and the community at large.
This collection includes newspaper clippings, photographs, correspondence, personal papers documenting Morales's family history,
manuscripts, and organizational papers reflecting his work with the MAOF and numerous other public entities. The collection
is heavily weighted toward photographic documentation, providing a unique visual record of Mexican American family, culture,
and social organizing throughout the twentieth century. The collection is also notable in that it contains typed, hand-notated
drafts of many of Morales's speeches and lectures.
Born in Yuma, Arizona, in 1918, and raised in Moorpark, California, by farmworker parents, Dionicio Morales witnessed at a
very young age the hardships associated with agricultural labor and the injustices confronting Mexican Americans in a society
that was still largely segregated. Although Morales struggled to get an education, he stated that he had inherited a "sense
of determination and dogged persistence" from his father, who fought for a better life for his family. Morales persevered,
first graduating from Moorpark High School in 1937 and then attending Santa Barbara State College. He went on to major in
sociology at the University of Southern California, where he obtained his degree in 1944.
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