LATINOPIA MOMENT IN TIME “1969 HOUSTON HIGH SCHOOL WALK-OUT”

1968 and 1969 were years when Mexican American high school students throughout the United States protested the inferior education they were receiving by simply walking out of school en masse.  Arguably the first of these walk-outs occurred in Los Angeles, California in March of 1968 (see Latinopia Event Profile). News soon spread throughout the Southwest. In Houston, Texas at Jefferson Davis High School, student Mary Santellana who was known to her friends as “Little Mary,” was told by the school principal that she could not speak Spanish. If she did, she would be expelled–in spite of the fact that she was in the top 15 percent of her class and only months away from graduation.  But Mary stood up for her belief that she was guaranteed freedom of speech by the United States Constitution. She walked out of school in protest followed by several hundred other students. Students from other Houston high schools soon joined in supported of Mary by walking out of their high schools. Eventually the matter was resolved and Mary was allowed to speak Spanish on campus when she wanted.   This photo,  taken in 1969, shows Mary (at lower right) with classmate supporters of her protest. Photo courtesy to Latinopia.com by  Jesús Medel.

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