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Chicano Renaissance at the Enchilada Library and who cares?

Everything we have is because of them and others like them: Rudi "Flaco" Rodriguez, fifteen years old, went to jail in Del Rio, Texas during the marches. Andrea Velasquez, a college student on scholarship at OLLU, organized Chicano teatro, marched in St. Louis with Cesar Chavez, organized the first Chicana newspaper El Rebozo and went to the Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles. Artists David Gonzalez and Jose Esquivel aimed to be the pintores of protest as they wanted America to see that Chicano arte was vital, American, art.

This was the Chicano Movement, and the Central (Enchilada) Library is - delicately and diplomatically - featuring the Chicano Movement for Hispanic Heritage Month titled Chicano Renaissance.
Yesterday at the first panel hosted by San Antonio's most prominent and brilliant Chicana scholar, Antonia Castaneda, maybe 25 people were in attendance.

He who has the power tells the story, verdad? A teacher asked where are the books on the Chicano Movement? There are books about Cesar Chavez and chingos of books about MLK and the Civil Rights Movement, but were are our stories of struggle, resistance, justice, vision?

That's the panel we need to hear - what happened??? Did too many of us go to the suburbs? Did we neglect educating our children in our own history? Or do we not recognize that we are in this together?

Castaneda framed the story that took us where we are today: In 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 that opened the doors for Mexican-American employment at Kelly Air Force Base.
In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that school desegregation was illegal in Brown vs. Board of Education, which encouraged so many of our parents to dream of a better education for us.
In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed.
In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed.

Then came La Raza Unida Party, founded by Los Cinco in San Antonio, and running a slate of candidates throughout South Texas in 1971.

Talk about rocking our world.

Because of La Raza Unida, Chican@s with a working-class political agenda campaigned - and won - political office for the first time.

La Raza Unida changed my life. As it did thousands of others, even if they don't know it.

What happened? Flaco Rodriguez, who was a "footsoldier" under Los Cinco (La Raza Unida founders and leaders who included Jose Angel Gutierrez, Willie Velasquez and Mario Compean), explained how they organized young people in South Texas in the late sixties to establish 39 chapters in Texas.

Rodriguez explained how our fear in the name of then Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez -- denounced and destroyed MAYO - fearful of the Chicano Movement. He called them communists.

My own mexicana mother hated the word Chicano.

So La Raza Unida was born. Ramsey Muniz ran for Governor, and got 6% of the vote. Then he went to jail under still-debateable circumstances.

Some of us have made it. We are doctors, lawyers, professors, multi-millionaire advertising Republicans. Impossible prior to The Movement.

But almost 50% of our raza is still dropping out of high school.

What should we do? Our principals and superintendants are Latin@s. We have brown legislators all over the Southwest.

I think we need a new movement. It will not be called "Strategy," "Compromise," "Pick your Battles," or "Pretend and it will go away." Or "I"m ashamed those people fought for me and I would rather pretend I did it all by myself."

This new movement will be called I will not be afraid to love myself so much that I recognize we are all in it together.


texposa said…
Hola Barbara,

I was first introduced to your writing via the SA Express many, many years ago.

I am so happy to see you have continued your writing and will buy Golondrina when I get the dinero (my shit story of my life).

Incidentally, my older sister went to the Lake in '72 (on borrowed money, shoes and whatever else she could get) and was very involved in the Chicano movement. She opened our eyes (we are from deep S TX)to what we could achieve. She made us little sisters proud to be who we were. If it were not for her, none of us would have dreamed to go to college.

She is in heaven now, but I promised her to one day write her story. She was our "Rudy" (from the film)and I know she would have loved your work.

Mucho amor de una Chicana a otra, Now go git 'em! We need more voices like you.

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