March 27-31, 1969


CONTEXT: In March of 1969, Chicano activist leader Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales convened a National Youth Liberation Conference in Denver, Colorado. Youth from throughout the United States attended the conference held at the Crusade for Justice. Not since the 1938 El Congreso Del Pueblo de Habla Espanola, had such a large scale gathering of  Mexican American youth been convened to discuss common issues of oppression, discrimination and injustice. The Denver Youth Conference turned out to exceed organizer expectations, and the attendance at the 1938 conference, when more than 1500 youth came from all over the United States. After much debate and discussion, the conference formulated a philosophy of cultural nationalism, calling for all Mexican Americans to unite under the banner of the term “Chicano” and calling for self-determination in all spheres of life. The conference participants looked to the past of their
indigenous ancestors and discovered that the Aztecs who settled in the Valley of Mexico and created the Aztec Empire had originated somewhere in the Southwestern United States in a place called “Aztlán.” The youthful activism embraced the concept of Aztlán as their spiritual homeland and hammered out El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán as the “common denominator for mass mobilization and organization.” Alurista, a Chicano poet, penned a “Preamble to the Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” which crystalized the spirit of the conference participants and the mood of the time.


1969 Denver Youth Conference

In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage, but also of the brutal “Gringo” invasion of our territories, we. the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the Northern land of Aztlán, from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our response and our inevitable destiny.

We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, the sweat of our brows and by our hearts. Aztlán belongs to those that plant the seeds, water the land and gather the crops, and not to foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the Bronze Continent.

Brotherhood unites us, and love of our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggle against the foreign “Gabacho” who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our hearts in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our Mestizo nation, a Bronze people with a Bronze culture. Before the world , before all of North America, before our brothers in the Bronze continent, We are a Nation of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.
-Alurista, March, 1969

1969 Denver Youth Conference

1. El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, sets the theme that the Chicanos (La Raza de Bronze) must use their nationalism as the key or common denominator for mass mobilization and organization. Once we are committed to the idea and philosophy of El Plan de Aztlán, we can only conclude that social, economic, cultural and political independence is the only road to total liberation from oppression, exploitation and racism. Our struggle then must be the control of our Barrios, campos, pueblos, lands, our economy, our culture and our political life. El Plan commits all levels of Chicano society–the barrio, the campo, the rancho, the writer, the teacher, the worker, the professional–to La Causa.

I. PUNTO PRIMERO – Nationalism.
Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political, class and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common denominator that all members of La Raza can agree on.

II. PUNTO SEGUNDO – Organizational Goals
1. Unity in thought of our people concerning the barrios, the land, the poor, the middle class, the professional is committed to liberation of La Raza.
2. Economy: economic control of our lives and our communities can only come about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, our pueblos, and our lands and by controlling and developing our own talents, sweat and resources. Cultural background and values which ignore materialism and embrace humanism will lend to the act of co-operative buying and distribution of resources and production to sustain an economic base for healthy growth and development. Lands rightfully ours will be fought for and defended. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for the people’s welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by nationalism and the Chicano defense units.
3. Education must be relative to our people, i.e., history, culture, bilingual education, contributions, etc. Community control of our schools, our teachers, our administrators, our counselors and our programs.
4.Institutions shall serve our people by providing the service necessary for a full life and their welfare on the basis of restitution, not handouts or beggar’s crumbs. Restitution for past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic, cultural and psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights. Institutions in our community which do not serve the people have no place in the community. The institutions belong to the people.
5. Self Defense of the community must rely on the combined strength of the people. The front line defense will come from the barrios, the campos, the pueblos, and the ranchitos. Their involvement as protectors of their people will be given respect and dignity. They in turn offer their responsibility and their lives for their people. Those who place themselves on the front for their people do so out of love and carnalismo. Those institutions which are fattened by our brothers to provide employment and political pork barrels for the gringo will do so only by acts of liberation and La Causa. For the very young there will no longer be acts of juvenile delinquency, but revolutionary acts.
6. Cultural values of our people strengthen our identity and the moral backbone of the movement. Our culture unites and educates the family of La Raza toward liberation with one heart and one mind. We must insure that our writers, poets, musicians and artists produce literature and art that is appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture. Our cultural values of life, family, and home will serve as a powerful weapon to defeat the gringo dollar value system and encourage the process of love and brotherhood.
7. Political liberation can only come through an independent action on our part, since the two party system is the same animal with two heads that feeds from the same trough. Where we are a majority we will control; where we are a minority, we will represent a pressure group; Nationally, we will represent one party, La Familia de La Raza.

1969 Denver Youth Conference

1. Awareness and distribution of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan. Presented at
every meeting, demonstration, confrontation, court house, institution, administration, church, school, building, car and every place of human existence.
2. September 16th. On the birthdate of Mexican Independence, a national walk-out
by all Chicanos of all colleges and schools to be sustained until the complete revision of the educational system; its policy makers, administration, its curriculum and its personnel to meet the needs of the community.
3. Self defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every shcool, every available man, woman and child.
4. Community nationalization and organization of all Chicanos regarding El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán.
5. Economic programs to drive the exploiter out of our communities and a welding of our peoples combined resources to control their own production through co-operative efforts.
6. Creation of an independent local, regional and national political party.

A nation, autonomously free, culturally, socially, economically and politically, will make its own decisions on the usage of our lands, the taxation of our goods, the utilization of our bodies for war, the determination of justice (reward and punishment) and the profit of our sweat.