200 YEARS OF CHICANO/LATINO HISTORY
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
April 29, 1966 Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales creates the Crusade for Justice, a multifaceted civil rights organization housed in a refurbished church in Denver, Colorado.
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
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 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.
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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).