Over the ensuing decades, new arrivals from Mexico found Mexican-American communities celebrating the Cinco de Mayo holiday, preserving it in California and the Southwest as a relatively small tradition that became more about anti-colonialism and the power of the little guy than a shared dislike of slavery.
Later in the 20th century, however, two powerful and distinctly American forces would seize on the holiday as an important cultural signifier: The civil rights movement and beer companies. Mexican-American civil rights activists in the Chicano movement saw the celebration as an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and increase expressions of Latino pride in schools; American beer companies saw Latinos as a growing market that demanded a tailored marketing plan. These are the two classic prongs of American integration—the demand for political rights and the reality of increasing commercial importance. :