TIMELINE: 1960-1969

1960 Henry B. Gonzalez is elected to his first term in Congress.

1960 “Viva Kennedy” Clubs are instrumental in helping John F. Kennedy win the Presidential election. In particular, Mexican American voters make the difference in winning the state of Texas for Kennedy and winning the state of Texas allows Kennedy to carry the South. Texas Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and U.S. Senator Dennis Chávez, of New Mexico, serve as national co-chairs of the Viva Kennedy Clubs.

1960 The ouster of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries provokes a mass immigration of Cubans from the island to the United States. Most of the refugees settle in Miami, Florida.

1960 Project Headstart is created under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. The innovative project, which introduces Spanish speaking preschool children to English, is based on an earlier “Little School of the 400” pioneered by Houston based LULAC Council 60.

1961 Buoyed by the success of the Viva Kennedy Clubs in getting John F. Kennedy elected, Albert Peña, Jr., Alberto Fuentes and others in San Antonio, Texas create the Political Association of Spanish Speaking Organizations (PASSO) to further the political ambitions of Mexican Americans.

1962 Cesar Chavez resigns as General Director of the Community Service Organization after the CSO board turns down his request to expand organizing to farm laborers. Chavez, along with Dolores Huerta and Gilbert Padilla leave the CSO and move to Delano, California where they create the National Farm Workers Association. (SEE BIO: Dolores Huerta)

1963 Reies López Tijerina, a farmworker and lay preacher, incorporates the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants) in Albuquerque and begins the struggle to return ancient land grants to Hispano families of New Mexico. Previously he has had a vision in which he saw “frozen horses; they started melting and coming to life in a very old kingdom…I saw three angels of Law and they asked me to help them.” Tijerina interprets his vision as a call for him to go to

Reies Lopez Tijerina

New Mexico and resurrect the rights of Hispanos whose title to ancient land grants has been usurped by  stae and federal governments.His efforts will eventually lead to the “courthouse raid” on Tierra Amarailla, New Mexico in 1967. (SEE EVENTS: Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid)


Crystal City Spinach Capital

1963 Members of PASSO join with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and, after an intensive voter registration campaign, are successful in electing five Mexican Americans to the city council of Crystal City, Texas. “Los Cinco” successfully win the election but are the target of legal and political attacks which make the victory short-lived. Within two years they are forced to leave office.

1964 Eligio “Kika” De La Garza is elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as representative of Texas’ 15th District.

September 16, 1965 The National Farm Labor Union, led by Cesar Chavez, votes to join Filipino farm workers of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, under the direction of Larry Itliong, in a farm workers strike demanding a minimum wage of $1.25 an hour. A year later, the two unions merge to form the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee which undertakes a five year long campaign to get California grape growers to sign with the union.


Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales

1965 Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, an ex-prize fighter and community activist, is appointed director of Denver’s War on Poverty. Corky eventually becomes disenchanted with federal bureaucracies and decides that Chicanos need their own, independent agency. He leaves the War on Poverty and creates the Denver-based Crusade For Justice. (SEE BIO: Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales)


1965 Luís Valdéz, a theater arts major at San Jose State, joins the United Farm Workers Union and, along with Augustin Lira and Felipe Cantu, creates El Teatro Campesino, an agit-prop theater group that performs one-act plays to educate and politicize workers in the fields.

Playwright Luis Valdez


March 17, 1966 César Chávez leads a “peregrinación” march from Delano to the California state capital in Sacramento to draw attention to farm worker demands of the Schenley and DiGiorgio grape growers. The march takes 25 days to travel 340 miles. Chavez gathers supporters along the way and arrives in Sacramento on April 11, Easter Sunday, to announce to the crowd of 10,000 supporters that the Shenley farm had signed with the union. This first victory will set the stage for future union contracts. (SEE DOCUMENTS: Plan De Delano)

1966 Professor Rodolfo Acuna teaches the first class in Mexican American history in Los Angeles at Mount St. Mary’s College.


Crusade for Justice Offices

April 29, 1966 Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales creates the Crusade for Justice, a multifaceted civil rights organization housed in a refurbished church in Denver, Colorado.


October, 1966 Reies López Tijerina and members of the Alianza occupy part of the Kit Carson national Forest, claiming it to be part of the ancient San Joaquin de Chama land grant. Two forest rangers are arrested for trespassing on private property but are eventually released. The burning of a forest service sign by Tijerina and his followers will eventually result in imprisonment for Tijerina.



1966 Peregrinacion

July 13, 1966 The Supreme Court rules in Miranda v. Arizona that a person accused of a crime must be informed of their constitutional right to remain silent before being questioned by police. The Miranda decision will establish new guidelines for police conduct for years to come.


August 22, 1966 César Chávez unites his union, National Farm Labor

UFW Flag

Association with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee Union to create the United Farm Workers (UFW) union which is admitted into the AFL-CIO.


1967 The Brown Berets, a Chicano paramilitary organization that stresses “direct action,” is created in Los Angeles, California. Wearing brown khaki uniforms and a distinctive Brown beret, the organization, led by its founder David Sanchez, soon forms chapters throughout the Southwest.



I Am Joaquin, Epic Poem

1967 The epic poem, “I Am Joaquin,” which defines a militant Chicano identity, is written by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales. The poem will later be set to music by Luis and Daniel Valdez and Agustin Lira, with photographs by George Ballis, and distributed as a film throughout the Southwest.


1967 Actor Henry Darrow stars opposite Linda Cristal in the popular television series High Chaparral.


1967 The first Chicano Studies program in the United States is created at California State University at Los Angeles.


1967 In Texas, student activists José Ángel Gutíerrez, Ignacio “Nacho” Pérez, Mario Compeon and Willie Velasquez create a militant organization known as the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) at St. Mary’s College in San Antonio, Texas. MAYO is one of several Mexican American student organizations being formed throughout the Southwest at this time. In Los Angeles, activist students form groups known as the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and the Mexican American Student Association (MASA).


1967 In response to numerous cases of police abuse and injustice in the American legal system, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund is created in San Antonio, Texas. In the years to come this organization will spearhead numerous class action lawsuits which will protect the civil rights of Mexican Americans and other Latinos in the United States and will conduct community education and leadership training.



Tierra Amarilla Courthouse

June 5, 1967 Barred arbitrarily from holding a public meeting on the issue of land grants by New Mexico’s district attorney Alfonso Sánchez, Reies López Tijerina and his followers conduct an armed raid on the Tierra Amarilla courthouse to make a citizen’s arrest of Sánchez. A jailer and a police officer are wounded in a shoot-out but Sanchez is not found. Tijerina and his followers flee into the rugged mountains o f New Mexico. In the manhunt that ensues, the national guard is mobilized and the largest manhunt in New Mexico history is initiated. Five days later Tijerina is arrested and tried for conspiracy. In court Tijerina defends himself as “David before Goliath,” but he is convicted of assault and sentenced to two years in prison. (SEE EVENT: Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid)

June 9, 1967 After protests over lack of federal attention to the poverty of Mexican Americans, the Interagency on Mexican American Affairs is created by President Lyndon Johnson and Vicente Ximenes is appointed as its director.

October, 1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Mexico’s President Díaz Ordáz in El Paso, Texas and returns a disputed piece of land, El Chimazal, to Mexico. Vicente Ximenes, newly appointed to head the Inter-Agency of Mexican American Affairs decides to convene hearings on the status of Mexican Americans at the same time. The El Paso hearings are boycotted by national Chicano leaders such as Dr. Ernesto Galarza, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez and Reies López Tijerina who declaim the Interagency as ineffectual and not representative of the community and, instead, picket the event.

1967 Quinto Sol, an independent Chicano publishing house founded by Dr. Octavio Romano, begins publishing works by Chicano authors and publishes the journal Grito del Sol (The Shout of the Sun).

1967 Concerned with the legal and economic abuse experienced by mothers on welfare, activist Alicia Escalante officially creates the Chicana Welfare Rights Organization in Los Angeles, California. She had first envisioned the organization in 1966.

March, 1968 Mexican American students walk out of the four predominantly

1968 High School Walk-outs

Mexican American high schools of East Los Angeles to protest the inferior education that Mexican American students receive in the Los Angeles school system. The “Blowouts” at Wilson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Garfield high schools last for a week. Eventually as many as 15,000 students in schools throughout the city walk-out in sympathy strikes to protest the inferior educational opportunities afforded to Mexican American students. (SEE EVENT: ELA High School Walk-Outs)

1968 In Espanola, New Mexico, civil rights activist Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez begins to publish the movement newspaper El Grito Del Norte (The Shout of the North). The newspaper soon becomes the leading source of news about injustices against Mexican Americans in New Mexico and the Southwest.

March 10, 1968 César Chávez breaks his 24-day fast with U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy at his side.

April 4, 1968 Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by a sniper as he stands outside his motel room at the Lorraine Motel. His murder incites rioting in more than 100 cities including Washington D.C. and Chicago.

May 12, 1968 A Poor People’s March is convened in Washington, D.C. headed by Reverend Ralph Abernathy. The multi-ethnic tent encampment near the Lincoln Memorial is named “Resurrection City” and includes Anglo, Black, Latino and Native American activists. Reies López Tijerina, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales and members of the Brown Berets are among the Chicano militants who unite to draw attention to poverty in Chicano barrios throughout the United States. The encampment is finally bulldozed on June 24, 1968.


Rally for "The L.A. 13"

May 27, 1968 Los Angeles District Attorney Evelle Younger secures Grand Jury indictments of thirteen leaders of the high school walk-outs for conspiracy to disturb the peace. The felony charge against “The L.A. 13” carries with it a possible sentence of 64 years. It will be two years before the charges are dismissed. The “L.A. 13” include: Sal Castro, Eliezar Risco, Pat Sanchez,Moctesuma Esparza, David Sanchez, Carlos Montes, Fred Lopes, Richard Vigil, Gilbert Olmedo, Joe Razo, Henry Gomez and Carlos Munoz, Jr.

September 16, 1968 The Educational Issues Coordinating Committee launches a picket line around Lincoln high school in East Los

Lincoln High School picket Line

Angeles to protest the ouster of a Chicano teacher from his teaching job. The Los Angeles School Board has suspended Sal Castro due to his felony indictment. The community group demands Sal Castro’s reinstatement.


Sit In At LA School Board

September 26, 1968 A group of more than 100 parents, teachers, students and community activists stage a seven day sit-in at the offices of the Los Angeles School Board which end with the arrest of 35 people and the reinstatement of Sal Castro to his teaching job.

October 10, 1968 A public protest over injustices at the hands of the Mexican government in a public plaza known as Tlatelolco in Mexico City is disrupted by the Mexican military. Soldiers attack the people gathered in the square and undertake indiscriminate killings. The total number of dead is never fully known but is estimated to be upwards of 2500 people. The Mexican government denies the mass killings in a large scale cover-up of what becomes known as the “Tlatelolco Massacre” which is later dramatized in the 1980s by Mexican motion picture director Jorge Fons.

February, 1969 César Chávez conducts a 25-day fast at the farm workers’ headquarters at Forty Acres, near Delano, California. The fast is an attempt to set an example of non-violence for some wayward supporters of the farm workers who have committed violent actions.


1969 Denver Youth Conference

March, 1969 Corky Gonzales’s Crusade for Justice sponsors a national Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in Denver, Colorado. More than 1500 youthful Mexican Americans attend. The conference defines an ideology of “Cultural Nationalism” for the Chicano Movement, adopts the Plan de Aztlán which calls for independent social, political and economic institutions. (SEE EVENT: 1969 Denver Youth Conference)


March, 1969 The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducts hearings in Los Angeles, California on the employment status of Spanish surnamed people in the motion picture and television industry. The hearing disclose that although Mexican Americans make up 14% of the population in Los Angeles, where film and TV production takes place, Spanish surnamed people make up less than 3% of the work force. The exclusion of Latinos from the film and television industry will continue for decades to come. 
April 1969 about one hundred professors, students and administrators primarily from California and other Southwestern states meet at the University of California-Santa Barbara to discuss among many concerns the status quo of Chicano college students.   On the steering committee are Jesus Chavarria, young  professor from the host institution, Juan Gomez Quinones, a major organizer of the meeting and Carlos Munoz, later chronicler of the student movement.  Sponsored by the Chicano Coordinating Committee on Higher Education, the three day symposium produces a 155 page blueprint for change called El Plan de Santa Barbara.
May, 1969. The Chancellor of San Fernando Valley State College (later to become California State University, Northridge) approves the creation of the a Chicano Studies Department on campus. This is one of  the first such department in the nation. The founding impetus for it is Dr. Rodolfo Acuña who, along with Rafael Perez-Sandoval, Gerald Resendez, Dr. Jose Hernandez and Carlos Arce, comprise the founding faculty of the department.

Ahora! Television Show

September 16, 1969 Ahora! The first public affairs talk show devoted exclusively to the concerns and issues of the Mexican American community premieres on public broadcast station KCET in Los Angeles. One hundred and seventy-five live half-hour programs will be produced ranging from in-studio talk shows, to remote community telecasts to musical concerts and theatrical performances.



1969 Crystal City Walk-outs

December, 1969 In Crystal City, Texas Diana Palacios challenges an unwritten rule that only one Mexican American girl can be selected for the school’s cheerleading squad which is otherwise made up of Anglo girls. When her petition is denied, more than 1700 students walk out of Crystal City high school in an expanded campaign demanding Chicano teachers, counselors and protesting the high drop out rate of Mexican students. Mexican American teachers arrive in Crystal City from Austin and San Antonio and teach the walk-out students at a local park. Eventually, the Crystal City school board bows to community pressure and enacts changes in school policy. Inspired by the victory, Mexican American activists, led by José Angel Gutíerrez, create a political party to challenge city officials in the upcoming elections of 1970. They call the new, all-Latino political party, La Raza Unida (The United People).