1969: Chicano Movement Rising
Notes on Raza history in East LA, Oct 14 at Cal State LA
Rosalio Urias Munoz
In the fall of 1969 the Chicano Movement in East La flat out began to confront two major global institutions, the Pentagon and the Catholic Church. In retrospect the efforts helped make the "Vietnam Syndrome" a true national reality, limiting the Pentagons ability to fight land wars and opened the door to more progressive activities in the Chicano community and the Catholic Church. How did we dare?
Published on LatinoLA: October 13, 2009
I'll leave that question for a panel discussion Wednesday October 14, 6:30-9 at the Cal. State. LA's Student Union Los Angeles Room called 1969: Chicano Movement rising with a panel of key grass roots organizer/leaders of that time, Gloria Arellanes, Jesus Trevino, Joe Razo, David Sanchez, and myself, several other veterana/os will be on hand in discussion as well as a few dozen or more Chicano Studies students.
As a prelude though, my own, I'd like to offer some thoughts about those times to help bring out the context and stir up some thinking about the reality then and the legacy now.
To leave the national question aside for the moment one of the overriding characteristics of the movimiento was that it was grass roots based. Cesar, Dolores, Corky, Reies, Jose Angel, Bert, Sal Castro, Alicia Escalante, Razo, Arellanes, Sanchez, eventually me and many others reached out to the community for action. Rooted in community and families from most of the Southwest and families the movimiento had mass impact as it grew.
Along side of this was the development of the Chicano Press Association, our own press to spread and share ideas, art, actions. The establishment knew this and the kept on arresting the volunteer staffers of La Raza, La Causa, because they were also organizers. They were barrio unifiers over the hills and down the highways, community and campus, low riders and car clubbers. Back then, as Lalo Guerreros blues ballad put it There's No Chicanos on TV. The photographs and other graphics as well as the writing was powerful. What La Raza and other prensas said in September, Ruben Salazar wrote up in January, with growing demonstrations and actions in between. The same for La Opinion, KWKW radio, Channel 34. KPFK, KCET tv, the Peoples World, Militant and LA Free Press gave coverage. Then there was Carlos Santana, Tierra, El Chicano and many others.
We weren't all that bilingual back then, mas pochos que la nada were many of us, but we embraced it as we could y tambien biculturalism and the fokloricos y corridos. Regarding the nationalism, it united different generations of immigrants, whether from Chuco (El Paso) or braceros de Mexicali, many grandparents rode with Villa, revered Zapata. Before we rallied around Aztlan our forefathers were linked by railroads, cotton fields, mines, and mass construction projects, canneries, sewing and other sweat shops, de los dos lados.
We were not aware then how important this would be in responding progressively to the mass immigration the government and corporations made into a defacto system of super exploitation of undocumented workers. This brings me to a key reality facing the raza the, the right wing Reaganism in Califas and especially Easlos that escalated the oppression of our people manyfold in other barrios and ghettos, factories, fields, campus and jails, courtlhouses.
This was very concious on the part of what was called the Reagan Kitchen cabinet, a key player, eminence grise, was oil conglomerator Henry Salvatori along with blue blood corporate attorney William French Smith. We hear of Nixons southern strategy as key to the rightwing realignment of our nation, we know much of Karl Roves follow up role. Salvatori was a realignment pioneer for California especially the Southern end beginning with LA. He lead in getting Reagan to be the darling of the 1964 Goldwater campaign and win the governorship in 1966. Since then Republicans have been governors here 32 of the last 43 years. What does this have to do with the movimiento? mucho mucho. To be successful Reaganites like Salvatori had to take care to keep Mexican Americans relatively powerless, relatively meaning all of us and our cousins.
When Reagan won the Governorship in 1966 by over a million votes L.A. Democrat Mayor Sam Yorty showed up for the victory party. In 1967 with Salvatori money Arthur K Snyder was elected City Councilman of the 14th District, was put at the head of the public safety committee and in '69 was considered a possible candiate for Mayor should if Yorty didn't run.. In 1968 Nixon narrowly won California having to woo Reagan support. In spring 1969 Salvatori and others backed Yorty's successful racist campaign against Councilman Tom Bradley and , just after the East LA Walkouts, Salvatori and others backed a successful right wing slate (that included extreme right winger Richard Ferraro,) that took the school board away from a liberal majority. Right wing favorite Ed Davis became chief of the LAPD.
All this set the stage for District Attorney Evelle Younger and Sherriff Pitchess both former FBI men under J. Edgar Hoover, to get into the raza bashing act. Younger created the special prosecutions unit that went after Chicanos along with Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson. From March 1968 to February 1971 and really much more it was open season on the movimiento, we have many scars but we have survived, aqui estamos y no nos vamos. Oh yes giving it all the blessing was arguable the nations most reactionary cleric James Francis Cardinal McIntyre.
How did we dare? come to the forum if you can. 1969: Chicano Movement Rising, Wednesday October 14, 6:30-9 pm, Calif. St. University in Los Angeles Student Union Los Angeles Room (A&B)
Si, se pudo
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