- East L.A., 1968: ‘Walkout!’ The day high school students helped ignite the Chicano power movement
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- Chicano Power and the Brown Berets - Gangs - POLICE Magazine
- Course Content for ETHN 116
The schools will not be the same hereafter. The East L.
East L.A., 1968: ‘Walkout!’ The day high school students helped ignite the Chicano power movement
The first act of mass militancy by Mexican Americans in modern California history set the tone for activism across the Southwest as America drifted into a year of social turmoil, assassinations, war and disillusionment. The walkouts focused national attention on a new force on the American political scene, the Chicano movement. Pete Martinez, a former teacher at Lincoln, said students that year ignited a movement that would transform generations of Latinos in America.
Eastside schools were run-down and overcrowded, and the community had little political power. The Mexican American community was young — about half the population was under 20 — and there were no Mexican Americans on the City Council or Board of Supervisors. At Eastside schools, Spanish speakers felt trapped in slower tracks that funneled them toward low-skilled jobs.
Harry Gamboa, now a celebrated photographer and performance artist, remembered the day in elementary school when the teacher led him to the front of the class and helped him fashion a hat made of construction paper as an art project. Years later, he would join the walkouts at Garfield.
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Although the walkouts seemed spontaneous, they grew out of years of social activism. Four young activists opened the La Piranya Coffee Shop in at the corner of Olympic and Goodrich boulevards as headquarters for their organization, Chicano Youths for Community Action. Revolution was in the air. Black militant Stokely Carmichael swung by La Piranya.
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One day in , hours before a protest against police harassment, Sanchez ran by the garment district to buy a dozen berets — the headgear seen on countless posters of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. The group operated under a manual written by Sanchez that included a passage members were required to memorize:.
He is discriminated against in schooling, housing, in employment and in every other phase of life. Because of this situation, the Mexican American has become the lowest achiever of any minority group in the entire Southwest.
What people were only beginning to realize was that — much as the students at a Florida high school this year have seized the debate over gun control from the adults — it was the high school students of East L. The original plan was to present a series of demands — and the threat of a walkout — to the school board in The plot fizzled. Hundreds of students walked off campus in anger. The organizers of the failed walkout plot saw their chance.
Chicano Power and the Brown Berets - Gangs - POLICE Magazine
Sal Castro, Brown Berets, college students and others, including students recruited from high schools, holed up at La Piranya and other hangouts over the weekend to prepare. By Tuesday, March 5, they were ready to launch. Many of us, including the teacher, ran to the window to see what was going on. Rodriguez saw students hemorrhaging through the gates and onto surrounding sidewalks and streets.
Most refused. A Coca-Cola delivery truck happened to drive up, and students began grabbing bottles and hurling them at deputies. Wading into the fray were the Brown Berets, who had planned to offer students protection. When Vickie Castro pulled up at her alma mater, an administrator recognized her. She drove off — for the other side of the campus, and joined other activists inciting students to walk.
Course Content for ETHN 116
A brief clash with police resulted in several arrests. Students walked out at Belmont the next day. In years to come, the Eastside would be the site of protests decrying the Vietnam War and immigration policy. But these early walkouts were about education. There was a lot of social mobilization in the United States in that year, because social assistance was being taken away from undocumented people due to Proposition That was also the year of the Zapatista uprising and we as Mexicans in the United States, as Chicanos, well, it made a big impact on us.
The Chicano has an identity problem. After , we were proud to say, together with the Zapatistas, we are Mexicans, indigenous people, and we are proud of it. They are the workforce of the U.
That is how the Brown Berets began. The establishment of our faction was accredited to the development of the Watsonville Brown Berets, as they disbanded from the BBNO in I believe and when they did so they published a position paper rejecting nationalism and declaring themselves autonomous. They continued organizing movement such as their Liberation School where they offered tutoring and counceling support, their annual Youth and Power informational event and their annual Peace and Unity March which they held since their establishment in They solidified relationships with many local community organizations and where active in their local political process.
What separated them from the other Beret organizations it that they infused their organization with native ceremony which further reinforced their commitment to communal and healthy lifestyles as a means to establishing our revolutionary vision shared throughout all history of social justice. This was apparent in their organizing structure and approach. Under the guidance of elders, the Native perspective of a cyclical world view was eventually internalized by them familiarizing themselves with ceremonial practices like Sweat Lodge ceremony and Danza Azteca.
It was routine for them to ritually begin and end their meetings in a circle, and a traditional collective smudging of sage smoke. Throughout this time, they gained wide spread recognition from the work they where doing as most of us activists do inspired from by our hearts, without the intent of doing social justice work for fame , which helped the calling of other organizers to establish Brown Beret chapters of direct association.
The Watsonville Brown Berets decided to temporarily disband in Our current generation of Brown Berets of Sonoma County began in April of as a small group of young men of different backgrounds felt that our community needed this type of revolutionary political-cultural perspective which was not found in our area.
We quickly got to establishing our organization suited to our local area, have continuously been developing and strive to always be open to learning while 'keeping our eyes on the prize' and old movement saying. We are consensus-based in our decisions and have our Elders' Council as a general guide and support, who we are given very wise advice from. Ideologically, we respect the necessity of having a nationalist perspective because the ages old struggle for social justice is necessarily born out of the need for the oppressed to liberate themselves, and therefore existing the necessity to identify with traits that unifies these people not limited to ethnicity or class.
In having a reasoned balance of these two principles, we agree that we do allow anybody for our recruitment process but will always continue to be a Raza oriented organization.