El Chicano on KCET in 1972

El Chicano with Emiliano Zapata & Pancho Villa on the cover of their album Revolución

Since the arrival of rock'n'roll in the 1950s, the Chicano community of Los Angeles has produced a number of musical artists that successfully combined pop smarts with homegrown social awareness. In the Valley, Ritchie Valens fused traditional Mexican folk song to a rock beat and had a smash hit with "La Bamba." East L.A. kings Thee Midniters reached a national audience with their ode to their main drag, "Whittier Blvd."

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The Chicano Movement in the late 1960s brought a new set of political consciousness to the scene; songs such as "Chicano Power" and "Ballad of Cesar Chavez" now formed the core of Thee Midniters' repertoire. El Chicano, formed in East Los Angeles in 1970 - the year of the Chicano Moratorium - was one of the more explicitly political groups from the scene. Their manifesto was much aligned with the Chicano activists - their album Revolución showed members of the band sitting alongside Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, revolutionary heroes to the movement.

In 1972, El Chicano stopped by the KCET studios to perform on the program Acción Chicano. Jesus Treviño - who earlier had produced and co-hosted 175 episodes of Chicano public affairs program Ahora! for KCET - created Acción Chicano as a reaction to the lack of Latino programming on public news outlets. KCET later helped to create the Latino Consortium, an organization aimed to share resources for airing Latino programming on public media outlets.

Sound Colour Vibration, a site dedicated to covering "timeless music, art and film from the past and present," unearthed this YouTube gem of their performance of their song "El Grito." (The clip is labeled 1971, but the program premiered in 1972 so it may be a case of mislabeling):

In 1972, Jesus Treviño produced the film Yo Soy Chicano. The KCET produced documentary offered a powerful argument in favor of the Chicano civil rights movement. Here is an excerpt from the film:


You can hear our interviews with Jesus Treviño here.

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