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Civil Rights Awakening

A multi-faceted group of Chicano and Chicana activists emerged during the 1960s and 1970s, spurred on by the United Farm Workers, the Black Civil Rights movement and the struggle against the Vietnam War. There was a growing awakening to the political and social injustices being perpetrated against their community, and this new political and cultural consciousness echoed through all aspects of life, leading to direct activism in schools, workplaces, social services, health and the arts.

In the mid 1960s young Mexican-Americans were meeting throughout the country and in Los Angeles, working together to produce a new identity that found strength and power in their history. Assisted by the GI Bill and Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) funded by President Johnson's War on Poverty, more Mexican-Americans students were entering colleges and finding fertile ground for progressive ideas and actions. Young men and women were organizing on campus and in the community to challenge both de-jure and de-facto forms of discrimination and building a movimiento, a movement for change characterized by a growing emphasis on cultural ethnic identity.

John Ortiz, student leader at Garfield High in East L.A. during the student walkouts in 1968
John Ortiz, student leader at Garfield High in East L.A. during the student walkouts in 1968

A direct outgrowth of this was the 1968 high school walkouts that began on March 1st at Wilson High School in El Sereno, quickly followed by walkouts at Garfield and Roosevelt High Schools in East Los Angeles, Belmont High School in Los Angeles and Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights. By the end of the first week over 15000 students had walked out of classes. Students were seen carrying signs calling for educational reform, college prep and culturally relevant classes, as well as placards emblazoned with "Viva La Raza" and "Chicano Power." The student walkouts were instrumental in spreading the ideas and energy of the movimiento throughout Los Angeles and arguably the country.

Post-World War II
Ricardo Munoz describes the communal experience of WWII and the opportunities made available with the GI Bill which led to a historical opening for the civil rights movement to arise.

A Part of the Movement
Rosalio Munoz is introduced to the Chicano movement while at UCLA and decides to run and wins the an election for student body president.

High School Walkouts
Ricardo Munoz describes the efforts of high school and college students to challenge school policies and practice that limit Chicano educational opportunities.


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