East Los Angeles Student Walkouts

During the last lapse of the 1960s a controversy was exposed to the public eye. In such controversy, the school system of East Los Angeles, California, was involved. Inside the school system of East Los Angeles, Mexican-American students were being discriminated and treated differently among the rest of the students. Besides being discriminated, Chicano student were offered poor quality facilities from the school system. Teachers and staff underestimated Chicano students’ academic abilities as well as recreational skills. Mexican-American students were ignored and departed from their academic opportunities. As a consequence, the Mexican-American community had the highest dropout rate among minorities in the United States. Furthermore, the Chicano community also had the lowest college attending rate overall. Community leaders were upset by this situation and made them angrier the fact that the school system of East Los Angeles did not tried to improve the situation the Mexican-American student community was going through. Activists could not handle such situation anymore and decided to put pressure on the school system to make some efforts at coming up with a solution for Chicano students.

Activists, teachers, and students against the school system, gathered together and wrote thirty six demands to the Board of Education of East Los Angeles. Among the demands written by the group of activists, teachers, and students were the creation of a bilingual and bicultural education, the addition of more Latino teachers and administrators to the schools, smaller classes, better facilities, as well as the incorporation of Mexican History to text books. None of the demands were met and ideas on how to attack the school system started to came out. The best strategy they found was walking out of schools. The main goal of the strategy was to hurt schools financially since the schools in Los Angeles were paid based on the number of students in class each day. Therefore, the idea was to walk out before attendance was taken. But an unexpected incident changed the whole plan.

The cancellation of the play by Neil Simons, “Barefoot in the Park”, was enough to trigger the walkouts planned in Los Angeles. That is how the first student walkout occurred, it was held on March 1st of 1968 and 300 students walked out that day. Throughout the following days the student walkouts or “blow outs” expanded across the school system of East Los Angeles. The walkouts had some violent incidents where schools locked the gates and called the police to contain the students from walking away. In high schools like Garfield, Roosevelt, and Belmont High School police had to intervene and as consequence arrests were made. After the massive walkouts, the Board of Education agreed on having a meeting with the Mexican-American community to find a possible solution to the situation. The thirty six demands originally sent to the Board of Education were brought to the discussion and again the school system rejected the demands. The argument was insufficient funds to implement rigorous changes to the school system. This caused the raised the rumor of more possible walkouts. The Board of Education got afraid of this rumor and decided to start making changes into the school system. Even though the changes were not seen immediately, eventually the school system started to change. Most of the demands were not met, but the student walkouts proved the power of Mexican-American to unify and fight for their cause.

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Mexican American Youth Organization

The Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) was founded in San Antonio, Texas, in 1967. MAYO was created by Jose Angel Gutierrez, William C. Velasquez, Mario Compean, Ignacio Perez, and Juan Patlan. Gutierrez was given the credit of being the person who came with the idea of creating MAYO. Later he shared his idea with William, Mario, Ignacio, and Juan and all decided to begin this promising project. These five people chose the name of the organization based on their beliefs. They saw young Mexican-Americans as great tool to accomplish goals as well as that the contribution of young people to the organization could reduce the criticism from society. Therefore, the Mexican-American teenagers and college students committed to “La Raza” were the majority in MAYO’s population. The concept of “La Raza” was fundamental in MAYO’s developing during the 1960s;”La Raza” basically described the beliefs of MAYO.

The early civil rights regarding with Chicanos, like the Farm Workers Movement, influenced the creation of MAYO. As well as the rest of the civil rights movements, MAYO sought social justice but they focused on issues Mexican-Americans suffered during the 1960s.. MAYO identified and addressed the needs of Mexican-Americans. Economic independence, control of education, and political strength and unity were the main three struggles Mexican-American community faced with during the 1960s. MAYO was a strong supporter of the idea of developing a third political party, that way the Mexican-American community could have more political support as well as political representation in local and national government. MAYO fought intensively to end its main target, the discrimination against Mexican-Americans students by school staff and classmates in schools in the Southwest area of the United States. This organization formed an alliance with the Farm Workers and worked together to end poverty among Chicanos. Another issue MAYO was concerned about was the common happenings involving police brutality against Mexican-Americans.

The founders of MAYO decided that all of their methods of protest would be non violent. Gutierrez and the rest of the co-founders saw the use of non-violent methods of protest as an excellent path to accomplish their goals. The decision of using non-violent methods of protest was influenced by some of the civil rights movements that were going on during the 1960s. Their fight consisted of protests, strikes, and student walkouts, as well as direct political confrontation and mass demonstrations. MAYO was responsible for organizing up to thirty eight student walkouts that formed part of the massive wave of Chicano high students blow outs in the year 1968.

The Mexican American Youth Organization was very active fighting Chicano’s issues during the latest 1960s. This organization had a huge influence on the Chicano Movement as a whole and helped to set up the stage for what Mexican-Americans are now.

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The Crusade for Justice

The Crusade for Justice was marked for being an urban rights and a cultural movement. The movement started in Denver, Colorado during the year of 1965. Similar to the rest to the rest of the Chicano social movements, the Crusade for Justice focused to seek for justice for Chicanos during the 1960s. The Crusade for Justice supported the student cause of the 1960s. This movement organized and participated as well on the wave of student walk outs of 1968s across the Southwest region of the United States. The Crusade for Justice, as well as the Mexican American Youth Organization, opposed to police brutality incidents in behalf of Chicanos. The several incidents that involved police brutality harmed the ideology of the social movement. Another issue that the Crusade for Justice focused on was the rare episodes of legal cases framed up by the police concerning Mexican-Americans. An important aspect of the Crusade for Justice was its strong opposition to the Vietnam War. The Crusade for Justice argued that the Vietnam War affected the Mexican-American community by enlisting dozens of Chicanos into the Army of the United States and by buying large amounts of food from the rich land owners. The movement and its leaders were just not happy with the Vietnam War; for example Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales.

Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, the main leader and founder of the Crusade for Justice Movement, sought to keep the fighting to improve Mexican-American community situation. Even though Gonzales had some beliefs in common with other Chicano activists, he had some other different opinions about society. With the creation of the Crusade for Justice, he set the goal to establish Chicano’s communities under the control of the same Mexican-American people. Gonzales wanted to embrace the Chicano culture. “Corky” desired to end the discrimination at schools and to incorporate Mexican-American culture to the scholar agenda. The Crusade for Justice comprised mainly of young Chicanos students, a particular aspect of the Chicano Movement as a whole.

Among the accomplishment of the Crusade of Justice was the creation of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan (The Spiritual Plan of Aztlan). The plan called for the mass mobilization of Chicanos under the same identity, the Mestizo Nation. The new identity of Chicanos described them as a free community with their own culture. The Mestizo Nation also stated that Chicano community was free economically and that were together under the political beliefs. This idea was basically the starting point for the creation of a third political party in favor of the Chicano community.

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La Alianza Federal de Mercedez

In the early 1960s, Reies Lopez Tijerina began the Land-Grant movement in the state of New Mexico. In violation of the provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the U.S. war with Mexico in 1848, the property of the Mexican inhabitants of what is now the Southwest U.S. was not respected. Reies López Tijerina investigated the original land-grant titles and exposed the processes by which they were stolen. Lopez Tijerina needed a better way to attract the attention of the public and of the government. His investigation was very serious and he needed a serious way to fight to get back the land lost by the Mexicans. He decided to create an organization that could attract possible followers and that way he could have a more solid base to work; Lopez Tijerina named his organization the Alianza Federal de Mercedez.

The Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants) was formed in the state of New Mexico during the year of 1962. The purpose of the creation of this organization was to publicize the claims of the Mexicans and some Mexican-Americans to the land now occupied by Anglos and by the National Forest Service. Unlike the rest of the social movements that were part of the Chicano movement, the Land Grant movement was marked as one of the violent social movements of 1960s. Unfortunately, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes was blamed for promoting the usage of violence.

A series of events beginning in 1966 brought the Alianza to public attention nationally. A march from Albuquerque to Santa Fe with petitions to the governor of New Mexico and the president of the United States was followed by attempts to occupy parts of National Forest lands in the fall of 1966 and the summer of 1967. This was answered by military force and frame-up charges against Alianza leaders. The most remarkable event was the raid over Tierra Amarilla held by Lopez Tijerina and La Alianza. On June 5 of 1967, Lopez Tijerina and La Alianza members gathered together and stormed the county courthouse of Tierra Amarilla to arrest civically one attorney they thought he was abusive. The police arrived at the place of the incident and immediately a gun battle was held between the police of Tierra Amarilla and La Alianza. Twenty shots were fired up that day and two people were wounded.

Lopez Tijerina and La Alianza planted the seeds for new groups focused on the Land Grant Movements could keep fighting for their beliefs. However, La Alianza was most in the times rejected by the Anglo society because it represented a threat for being a violent organization.

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The Farm Workers Movement

The movement that symbolized the Chicano Movement as a whole was the Farm Workers Movement. This popular movement was a civil rights movement that sought justice for Mexican and Mexican-American farm workers. The movement was constituted by a huge labor organizing drive and a moral campaign. Through the labor organizing drive, activists of this social movement intended to reach a reform in the agriculture industry that could benefit the farm workers. The main target of the reform was to improve farm workers workings conditions as well as to finding a solution to the economic struggles of farm workers. Farm workers experienced severe living and working conditions. Most farm workers often lived in poorly repaired, expensive, and overcrowded migrant camps. The housing for farm workers suffered the lack of basic needs like running water, indoor toilets, heat, or even electricity. The unhealthy conditions farm workers had to live through was the most shocking aspect of their life style. In most cases, farm laborers were asked to perform arduous and exhausting physical work for less than the lower wage. The conditions of the fields were not satisfying either, farm workers were exposed to cold, dangerous rodents and strong chemicals that were a threat for health. Also, they possibility of dehydration always persisted due to the lack clean water and high temperatures when the sun came out. Furthermore, theses workers were treated differently by the government in comparison of the rest of the labor force of the United States. The farm worker suffered the lack of medical insurance, the necessity of a stable minimum labor wage, and were excluded from Federal Legislation as well as from the Social Security program.

Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta created the Farm Workers Association, which was to become a social movement and a union of farm workers that could deal with medical, language, and other problems faced by farm workers. Chavez and the rest of the farm workers movement opted to use non-violent methods of protest. They were responsible for massive protests, national boycotts, and strikes. The grape strike of 1965 was a strong proof of the power of Mexican and Mexican-American farm workers to gather together and fight for their cause. Chavez was well known for his particular method of protest; fasting. He was so committed to the cause that he risked his life by going for several days without food. Even though this Farm Workers Movement was very active during the 1960s, their production of accomplishments was not that good. Most of their goals were not met due to lack of political support. But Chavez and other activists planted the seed that later would produce a series of achievements in favor of the Farm Workers Movement.

The Farm Workers Movement was influenced by the civil rights movement of 1960, but the alliance with other organizations gave a more power to the movement. Filipino farm workers organizations played a big role during the existence of the Farm Workers Movement.

(319) Sen. Robert Kennedy, Larry Itliong, Dolores Huerta, and Andy Imutan, Delano, California

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The British Invasion

A musical movement of the mid-1960s, the British Invasion was composed of British rock-and-roll and beat groups whose popularity spread rapidly to the rest of the English-speaking world, especially the United States which, from the beginnings of rock-and-roll music in the late 1950s, had nearly a monopoly on the genre.

Though generally not credited with starting the “Invasion”, Dusty Springfield was one of the first British artist to have significant success in the U.S., with her hit single I Only Want to Be with You”, released in November 1963. She appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in early 1964 singing the popular hit. Throughout the rest of the decade she continued to have several U.S. hits.

The Beatles’ triumphant arrival in New York on February 7, 1964, is widely credited with truly throwing open America’s doors to a wealth of British musical talent, and officially beginning what would soon come to be called the second British Invasion. British rock broke through to mainstream popularity in the United States in January 1964 with the success of the Beatles.”I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the band’s first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, starting the British Invasion of the American music charts. The British Invasion also played a major part in the rise of a distinct genre of rock music, and cemented the primacy of the rock group, based on guitars and drums and producing their own material as singer-songwriters.

Other British bands soon tried to replicate the beats and suggestive lyrics of American rock and roll, but many failed. Many of the bands lacked the original sound of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and county music. Scottish-born Lonnie Donegan was mainly a drummer less, acoustic guitar and banjo ensembles, similar to jug bands, who most often sang traditional American folk songs.

By 1966, some British teens developed a real feel for the rock-and-roll and American blues idioms. Blending that with such local traditions as music hall, pop, and Celtic folk, they formulated original music they could claim, play, and sing with conviction. Young groups with electric guitars began performing and writing up-tempo melodic pop, fiery rock and roll, and Chicago-style electric blues.

The rebellious tone and image of American rock and roll and blues musicians also deeply echoed with British youth in the late 1950s, influencing all the British Invasion artists. Within a year or two of the initial British onslaught, a new wave of American musicians had already laid the groundwork for the creative renaissance in popular music during the latter half of the 1960s.

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Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It often used new recording techniques and effects and drew on non-Western sources such the ragas and drones of Indian music. Major features of psychedelic rock are electric guitars, often used with feedback, wah wah, and fuzzboxes, extended instrumental solos or jams, elaborate studio effects, such as backwards tapes, long delay loops and many more features. A sitar was used much early on with recordings of the genre. The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument used mainly in Indian classical music.

Powerful drugs such as LSD, mescaline, peyote and mushrooms were being combined with marijuana and alcohol as a means to disconnect from reality. While under the influence of these substances, musicians and artists felt as if they had entered a higher sphere of awareness. Psychedelic rock musicians felt free to break out of the pop music mode and perform longer pieces based on free-form jazz and blues models. Lyrics were no longer required to make linear sense because they could reflect an altered reality of the drug experience.

It was established by many musicians including The Beatles, The Byrds, and The Yardbirds, emerging as a new genre during the mid-1960s, along with folk rock and Blues rock  bands in the United States. Two of the most successful and influential acts of the era, Bob Dylan and the Beatles, were among the first to experiment with such references. Dylan’s song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965), which may have taken its title from a Kerouac novel included the line, “Johnny’s in the basement, mixing up the medicine”, and his “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965) After being introduced to cannabis, members of The Beatles began experimenting with LSD in 1965. The Beatles introduced audiences to many of the major elements of the psychedelic sound during this period, with guitar feedback in “I Feel Fine” (1964). Drug references soon began to appear more and more in their songs.

Psychedelic rock reached its height in the last years of the decade. 1967 saw the Beatles release the double A-side “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”. It reached its peak between 1967 and 1969 with the Summer of Love and the Woodstock Festival. By the end of the 1960s psychedelic rock was in retreat. LSD had been made illegal in the US in 1966.

Typical psychedelic style poster icon

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