Archive ID: FIC-0000-038

Portrait of Justino Cordero

Date Created: undated

Donor: Southeast Chicago Historical Society

Media Type: Object


Born in 1903, Justino Cordero emigrated from Zacatecas, Mexico to Chicago in 1923. He was an early Mexican-American steelworker at South Works. In 1926, Justino Cordero married Caroline Kon in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in South Chicago. In an oral history, Justino describes how he started out in South Work’s open hearths and ended up doing electrical work in the power division of the steel mill. He also owned a radio shop in South Chicago known as Cordero’s Universal Radio Service on 89th St. His wife Caroline was Polish at a time when there was widespread discrimination against Mexican-Americans. Although there was resistance to such marriages, Caroline learned Spanish and became heavily integrated into South Chicago’s Mexican-American community. Together, she and Justino had three children. The Corderos were extremely active in Mexican-American and other community organizations. Starting in the late 1920s, for example, Justino organized and coached sports teams, including the Yaquis and Maya baseball clubs, as a way to keep young people “out of trouble.” After he retired as a steelworker, he attended a local community college and received a college and master’s degree so he could work with children with disabilities. The Corderos donated a large number of photographs relating to South Chicago’s Mexican-American community.

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