Adelante: Means "moving forward" and "go on ahead." Sterling's Latino Mural follows the history of a blue-collar community moving together from past to future: arriving from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Texas since the early 1900s, working, building, organizing, celebrating, learning, and maintaining its spiritual traditions, in sum "moving forward."
The community pages of Adelante website show everyday activities that are reflected in the historical panels of the Latino Mural, such as COMMUNITY & WORK.
Today, high school kids join farmworkers in "detasseling" the hybrid corn in August. Planting, weeding, harvesting, and foodpacking were labor-intensive jobs that drew immigrants and migrants into the fields of the Midwest. Adelante shows the long rows of Midwestern corn, a mother and child working in the fields, a farmworker with a box of cucumbers, and the antique green John Deere tractor manufactured in Illinois.
Read a history of the green tractors & visit the new pavillion on the Mississippi River at Moline, Illinois, west of Sterling: www.johndeerepavilion.com/about/about.htm
"THE MILL" NORTHWESTERN STEEL & WIRE 1870 - 2001
Northwestern Steel & Wire, hardware manufacturers, and the railroads attracted Latino workers since before WW I. Workers went on strike and formed a union in the mid-1930s, successfully joining the United Steel Workers of America by 1937 -- the same year that the electric "mini-mill" furnace modernized steel and wire production in Sterling [depicted in Adelante mural 2nd panel].
Northwestern closed their doors and dismissed about 1,400 workers in May 2001. Everyone has been talking about the future: Will another company buy out the mill? What will happen to workers close to retirement? How will the Steelworkers' Union local do now that one of their major employers is gone? By Spring 2002, negotiations were moving forward swiftly to annex mill land to the city as part of an investment plan to re-open the mill under new ownership.
THE RAILROAD - UNION PACIFIC THEN & NOW
Adelante's first panel commemorates the arrival of Latino immigrants by train, by car, and on foot. Railroad lines running from Chicago to Iowa and Nebraska helped develop Sterling as a manufacturing center on the non-navigable Rock River. Mexican and Mexican American labor helped build and run the Union Pacific Railroad yesterday and today.
Photos show an engine in the Northwestern yard on Wallace Street in the 1960s, Sterling workers re-constructing the unique "diamond" crossing in Rochelle, IL, and a modern Union Pacific engine about to pass under the Cesar Chavez Blvd (12th St / G Street) bridge:
See Jerry's collection of train photos: www.geocities.com/Athens/1050/photos_s.html
Historical look at Union Pacific RR: www.uprr.com/aboutup/history/