As we all know, the past affects the future. Oftentimes, we are able to draw how certain events affect the present. Throughout history, we have witnessed events that aren’t the most flattering but are important to address in order to understand what minorities have been through and understand how places like the United States were shaped. The Chicano Movement arose in the 1960s; it was part of the wave of civil rights movements that finally gave a voice to the Mexican-American community. The empowerment of the Chicano movement is still seen in the modern-day activism of the Latinx and Chicano communities.
What is the Chicano Movement?
Also known as El Movimento, it was a movement that began in the 1960s created to fight and address issues that Mexicans-Americans were facing. Particularly younger Mexican-Americans were involved in this movement, they felt inspired to take action by people like Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement. The Chicano Movement mainly focused on fighting the oppression that Chicanos were receiving from American institutions. This movement allowed for Chicanos to have an identity that addressed their experiences as Mexican-Americans, such as being treated as second-class citizens in their own homeland.
Change lead by the Youth
During the Chicano Movement, one of the issues was the lack of political voice Mexican Americans had. In 1963 Crystal City, five Mexican-Americans candidates were running for city council. The way they were able to get people involved was by having the youth participate in promoting political participation amongst older people. As they promoted these events, the younger generations were able to learn about the injustices and how to become active political participants in the future. During this time, Mexican-American youth were able to connect strategies for activism between Crystal City, Wisconsin and Texas. These communities connected with each other by unifying addressing issues, such as rights for immigrants. Movements like these are still present. We are able to see how current Latinx youth use their benefits of being U.S citizens to advocate for immigrants and Dreamers as well as participate in institutions by creating change and raising awareness while still fighting for their own issues.
Mi Existencia es Resistencia
One of the most memorable events of the Chicano Movement is the National Chicano Moratorium that occurred on August 29, 1970. It was one of the largest protests with 30,000 attendants. The main purpose was to raise awareness about the Vietnam war and the disproportionate number of Mexican-Americans being killed in the war. Unfortunately, this peaceful march turned into a violent fight between Los Angeles Police Department and Chicanos. One of the deaths from that day was of Ruben Salazar, a journalist and well known advocate for Chicanos. Salazar was one reason why the Chicano movement was seen in the media. LAPD had actually taken matters into their own hands to end the Chicano Movement by filtering Chicano organizations and harassed Chicanos until they violently fought back. In today’s current time, we see the coalition Brown and Black communities have done to fight against police brutality, including fighting against mass incarceration of minorities. This topic is still very controversial, especially with many cases gone without justice.
Value OUR history
Another ongoing fight Chicanos have faced is the inequality in the education system. During the Chicano Movement, the main goal was to fight against segregation in schools. In present time, it has shifted to fighting for a curriculum in schools that includes the history of Mexican-Americans. In a Tucson School District, the ethnic studies program was attacked and seen as radical because students were learning the history the U.S often hides, even though this curriculum was helping “at-risk” students to be engaged in school. Students protested against the injustice; a judge removed the ban from considering these classes illegal.
It is important to learn this history in order to better understand the current events groups such as Mexican-Americans face. It is an accumulation of oppressive history that is often silenced. People continue to fight for issues to become more aware and put in place a curriculum that allows for people to understand the history. It is essential to understand the past in order to understand what needs to be resolved.
*Rodriguez, Marc. “A Movement Made of Young Mexican Americans Seeking Change”: Critical Citizenship, Migration, and the Chicano Movement in Texas and Wisconsin, 1960-1975, Western Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, Issue 3, (Aug 2003) pp. 274-299.
*Escobar, Edward. “The Dialects of Repression: The Los Angeles Police Department and the Chicano Movement, 1968-1971”, The Journal of American History, Volume 79, No.4. (March 1993) pp. 1483-1514.
*Ruiz, Vicki. “La Nueva Chicana: Women and the Movement”: From Out of the Shadows: Mexican American Women in the Twentieth Century. Oxford University Press. pp 99-126.
*San Miguel, Guadalupe. “The Struggle Against Separate and Unequal Schools: Middle Class Mexican Americans and the Desegregation Campaign in Texas”. History of Education Quarterly, Volume 23, No.3. pp. 343-359.