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Chicano Power, 37 Years Later.

Moctezuma Esparza and Edward James Olmos come back to East L.A.

By Frankie Firme
Published on LatinoLA: August 18, 2005


Chicano Power, 37 Years Later.


I remember being a young Chicano teenager in L.A. sweatin' the Vietnam War and the draft in 1970. Times were tough...and not lookin' good for "the kid".

I remember the Chicano Movimiento, the Anti War protests, the Farmworker marches, the boycotts, the High School walk outs, the educational deprivation imbued upon the Gente, the attitude of bitterness I develped when I endured the scorn I received when I proudly identified myself as Chicano, the racial prejudice and police brutality, the inequalities suffered by my people in Aztlan, and the eventual riots on Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., as we collectively shouted out "Ya basta!", after years of Civil Rights struggle.

...and I also remember the music, of course! That was a special time in my life, for sure.

I never thought the experience would ever come to anyone's attention years later. I figured American society didn't want anyone outside of East L.A. to notice the crap in their pants, so they passed out a few crumbs, and let the issue die, keeping it out of American history books for future generations to scrutinize.

I've always felt that after all the process, some of us "got their's", some of us got shit upon, and the experience was something I'd have to hold close to heart if I was to make it in the real world, and not be stereotyped as a subversive as I became an adult.

...Lot's of Gente think like me, that's for sure. Over 37 years later, as our numbers begin to dwindle, and the memory begins to fade, a lot of us are still talking about a Civil Rights movement that was started in 1968 by a brave group of Mexican American teenagers, and a teacher by the name of Sal Castro, in East Los Angeles, California. Later joining forces with the Chicano Moratorium and Chicano Movimiento, this Civil Rights movement was responsible for changing the way Society, and the World, looked at Chicanos.

Being that as motivation, or in spite of it, movie producer Moctezuma Esparza, and actor/director Edward James Olmos (pictured) have collaborated on a project that will finally tell the story on the big screen for the World to see.

With a cast and advisors collected from the actual time & event, the movie will be an eye opener, especially if you've suscribed to "traditional" accounts of events back in 1968.

That's all I'm going to say about the movie for now, which premiers in the early spring of 2006. I've seen some of the initial clips, and I was memorably impressed!

After the filming, I was privvy to be invited to the after-party by one of the Student Leaders of the time, one of the actresses in the movie, and a friend for many years, Ms Margarita "Mita" Cuaron.

A mixture of the young and old, many in the Chicano Entertainment field were on hand to congradulate Moctezuma Esparza and Edward James Olmos for taking such a bold initiative.

Besides a generous offering of food and drink, entertainment was provided by the popular East L.A. Chicano music group CHICO, previously known as THE VILLAGE CALLERS, who set Senor Fish's Restaurant alive for the evening as never before.

With special guest appearances by vocalist GEREE, master trumpeteer BOBBY LOYA, and vocalist WILLIE MONDRAGON, the night was one of love and merry~making, as Edward James Olmos, Moctezuma Esparza & company mingled with the crowd and got their boogie on, and small reunions of all sorts came to be. I ran across music producers Steven Chavez and Antonio Perez, original Brown Berets founder David Sanchez, and Tejano recording star Bob Gallarza, among others.

The highlight of the night, besides exclusive movie clips, was the on stage reunion of two of East L.A.'s most famous and beloved music performers, brothers RUDY and STEVE SALAS of TIERRA fame. Smoothing into songs at the loud delight of the crowd like they never parted ways, the Salas brothers were joined by former TIERRA band member BOBBY LOYA.

As all three swayed in unison as they played their trademark song "TOGETHER" , the dance floor filled with a warm, nostalgic feeling that was simply beautiful & heartfelt.

Not known to let the moment go by, Steve & Rudy Salas raised their fists at the end of their set and shouted out "CHICANO POWER!"...to which WE ALL responded back: CHICANO POWER!!! (like back in the day, we did this 3 times!)

...it was like that. you should have been there!

...catch the movie "Walkout" this spring. I implore you!

It's a BROWN thing, baby!

About Frankie Firme:
Frankie Firme's website: http://www.frankiefirme.50megs.com




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