EVENT PROFILE – 1968 EAST LA HIGH SCHOOL WALK-OUTS

1968 EAST LOS ANGELES HIGH SCHOOL WALK-OUTS

By the mid-1960s, many Mexican American students were aware of social injustice and discrimination experienced by students in the Los Angeles Unified School System. In 1967, David Sanchez, a teenage social activist, created an organization known as Young Citizens for Community Action (YCCA) in hopes of addressing issues of discrimination.

It succeeded in helping elect Julian Nava as the first Mexican American to the Los Angeles School Board. Dissatisfied with the effectiveness of the YCCA, Sanchez morphed the organization into a more militant group known as the Brown Berets whose motto of “direct action” evidenced a more militant approach to social change.

Meanwhile, students from the four predominantly Mexican American highs schools of Garfield, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Wilson, began to discuss inequities in education afforded Mexican Americans at the annual Camp Hess Kramer summer retreat for Mexican American youth.

It was there that students determined that to bring about social change in the education of Mexican Americans in Los Angles more militant actions would be required. Aware that the city schools received a daily stipend for each student attending school, the savvy student activists devised a way to hit the school system in the pocket book.

The activists included students from all four schools including Paula Crisostomo, Margarita Cuaron, Harry Gamboa, Freddy Resendez, Carlos Callejo, Robert Rodriguez, Bobby Verdugo, Jr. The plan was to stage a massive walk-out from the four schools on the same day and thereby cost the school system thousands of dollars in unearned stipends, referred to as ADA, fpr “average daily attendance.” Although the plan was to be a coordinated walk-out from all four schools, on March 1, 1968 several hundred students at Wilson high school jumped the gun and stormed out of school to protest the canceling of a school play.

The following Monday, hundreds of students from Garfield, Roosevelt and Lincoln high schools ran through the hallways shouting “Blow out! Blow Out!” the student term for walking out of school. The massive display of civil disobedience involved dozens of arrests and beatings by Los Angeles police officers. Members of University organizations such as United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and members of the militant Brown Berets aided in the student walk-outs. By the end of the week, more than 15,000 students had walkout out of classrooms throughout the city in solidarity with the demands of the striking students.

As concerned parents and teachers joined the students, they held community meetings and formed an ad hoc Educational Issues Coordinating Committee, the students themselves articulated proposals for reform in Eastside education (SEE DOCUMENTS: 1968 HIGH SCHOOL WALK OUT WALK-OUT DEMANDS).

The East Los Angeles high school walk-outs, which resulted in massive changes in the education given to Mexican American youth in Los Angeles, inspired similar acts of civil disobedience in Crystal City, Texas ; Denver, Colorado; San Jose, California and other cities of the southwest.

Comments

    • latinopia says

      Thank you for asking! There are two great books to check out: about the student walk-outs. The recently published book "Blowout! Sal Castro & The Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice" by Mario T. Garcia and Sal Castro (see out Latinopia book Review by Luis Torres) and "Youth Identity and Power-The Chicano Movement" by Carlos Munoz Jr. Both of these deal with the Los Angeles school walk-outs. The story of the walk-outs on a national scope–because they also occurred in San Jose, California, Denver, Colorado and Crystal City and Dallas Texas, can be found in CHICANO! History of the Mexican American Civil Right Movement by Arturo F. Rosales (Arte Publico Press). Hope this helps! Tia Tenopia

  1. Jessica says

    I just met Sal Castro wonderful man he talked abt. his experience at Lincoln High and i personally think he would be the best resourse as Paula Crisostomo to talk to abt this WALKOUT

  2. janina says

    Mi papi went on one of the school walk outs at garfield high school. he said it was really fun and tht none of his teachers stopped him or his peers because they agreed tht the students needed a better education like the white people. he did not mean this is as a racist way when he said about needing a better education. he meant tht he wanted the equal oppotunity as everyonw wlse. he also said tht he walked out because his teachers and councelors all told him tht he wont make it big in life and tht it would be better if he became an engineer or a gardner or watever. but my dad proved them all wrong. he is now in a band called trio del alma and he gets big gigs all around california and he has big connections with everyone. he just wanted to prove tht he was as good as the white people so he and all his amigos walked out and went to the streets! :) he said tht he will never forget tht day.

  3. tonio says

    Im a student (senior) at East Palo Aalto Academy HS in Menlo Park california, every year this schools has an exhibition (powerpoint presentation)
    i am doing mines on LATINO EDUCATION i need a lot of information such as years, and events that impacted this topic. i can really appreciate if you can give me some ideas or articles or any information.

    • latinopia says

      Dear Tonio, For a historical overview of education and the Mexican American check out CHICANO! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement by F. Arturo Rosales, Arte Publico Press; Blowout! Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice by Mario T. Garcia and Sal Castro, University of Northern Carolina Press; and Youth, Identity, Power, The Chicano Movement Revised and Expanded edition by Carlos Munoz Jr. Verso Press. Hope this helps! Tia Tenopia

  4. tonio says

    thanks, but the thing is that my last year i talked about the chicano movement. i dont want this years presentation to be like the same thing as last years thats why i am just trying to focus on latino education . do everything that you just sended me have a lot of info on education??

    • latinopia says

      Dear Chubies, Check out the book "Blowout!– Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice" written by Mario T. Garcia and Sal Castro, 2011. University of North Carolina Press. Also check out the Latinopia Event 1968 School Board Sit-In on Latinopia's History page. Dale gas! Tia Tenopia

  5. Mvargas says

    This may be a littte late since school may be out but for future reference there is an actual Chicano Database. If you are a Cal State University student you just go to the librarians and they will tell you how to look up all the old info.

  6. MVargas says

    I did a research project on La Raza Unida Party , I really encourage everyone to know more about Latino History since we are not getting it in grades k-12's public schoool system. Hope it helps anyone who wants to know more about the Chicano Movement, My major is Chicano Studies.
    Best of Luck.

    Other books,
    Gutierrez, Jose Angel. The Making of a Chicano militant: lessons from Cristal/Jose Angel Gutierrez. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1998
    Hirsch, Herbert. Learning to be Militant: Ethnic Identity And the development of Political Militance In a Chicano Community. San Francisco: R&E Associates,1977.
    Shockly, John S. Chicano Revolt In A Texas Town. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1974
    Sullivan, Richard. Chicano politics: La Raza Unida. Los Angeles: Tlaquilo, 1973

  7. MVargas says

    Magazine Article:
    Berry, Miguel. Sueno/realidad–las elecciones. MAGAZINE 1.8 (January 1973): 27.

    NON-PERIODICAL INTERNET DOCUMENTS
    Acosta Teresa P. Raza Unida Party. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/article…. Accessed 5 March 2012

    Auto Determinacion Al Pueblo Chicano Mexicano !http://www.pnlru.org/ Web. Accessed 5 March 2012.
    Raza Unida Party Collection, 1969-1979. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utlac/00102/lac-00… Web. Accessed 5 March 2012.

  8. Adriana says

    I'm doing an essay about the Mexican-American & Anglo children who went to segregated schools, the Mendez VS. Westminister court case & also on the 1968 student walkouts in Los Angeles and I need to find information online that can help me any idea of what websites I can look at??

    • latinopia says

      There's not a lot out there and that is one of the reasons why we started Latinopia.com On this site you can see the videos 1968 EICC, 1968 School Board Sit-in, and 1969 Creation of Chicano Studies. Also check out the Event Profile (under History page) on the East L.A. walk-outs and Crystal City walk-outs. Also under History Documents see "High School Walk-out Demands." We recommend the books Blowout! by Dr. Mario T. Garcia and Sal Castro and Youth. Identity , Power by Dr. Carlos Munoz. Best of success! Tia Tenopia

  9. Christine Pimentel says

    You forgot to mention Belmont, the high school that Mr. Castro was a teacher at before he went to teach at Lincoln, if you watch the Movie, Walkout, you will see that Belmont was one of the 4 main high schools that were participants..as a student at Belmont in 1968 I participated in the Walkouts, we were proud to be a part of it……

  10. Maite Bustos says

    Hi my name is Maite and I am doing a project of the East L.A walkouts of 1968. I was hoping to find people who participated in the walkouts and ask them questions about the walkouts. If anybody could help me, you may contact me through email. My email is maite.bustos@yahoo.com.

    Thank you, Maite

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