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chicano moratorium
chicano moratorium

How the Chicano Moratorium Launched a Movement

While LATV is redefining culture by having our finger on the pulse of what happens today, we are also exploring our Latino history through stories that are not told in most classrooms.

In this article, we’d like to tell you about the Chicano Moratorium.

The emergence of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán at the Denver Youth Conference in 1969 was a landmark moment in the Chicano Movement; it set off an era defined by movements for social change that included Black Power, women’s rights, hippie love, and anti-Vietnam War activism.

The Chicano Moratorium was soon born – a collective effort to raise awareness regarding the Vietnam War as a civil rights issue, one among many affecting the Chicano community at the time. It was no secret that Mexican-American casualties in Vietnam were coming in disproportionate numbers to their population – 20%of the casualties when they comprised 10% of the American population. A series of marches and rallies were held in East Los Angeles beginning in 1969 – families with children joining students and activists in the fight for civil rights and to end the war.

Some of the Chicano Moratorium protests ended in violent clashes with the police, and the LAPD subsequently raided the offices of the Moratorium Committee. On Aug. 29, 1970, over 25,000 people gathered in East Los Angeles for the National Chicano Moratorium March to protest the Vietnam War, particularly the disproportionate number of poor and working class Latinos killed in the war. The rally was disrupted when police officers fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. Three Mexican Americans were killed, including Ruben Salazar, a notable Latino journalist. Salazar was struck in the head by one of the projectiles, killing him instantly.

After the police violence at the protest, the Chicano community continued to organize against the Vietnam War, focusing on issues of inequality both abroad and at home, including police brutality.  Activists continue to commemorate the march and Salazar’s death each August, this being the fiftieth anniversary of Salazar’s death.

Later on, LAPD fired at a crowd at a Chicano protest on January 31, 1971, killing one person. After that last protest, many who had previously been supporters, including Muñoz, called for an end to Moratorium activities, fearing more violence and more deaths. By then other Chicano organizations such as the Brown Berets had disbanded, but this would in part pave the way for a new wave of Chicano activism for the rest of the 1970s through music and art. It’s a historical moment all of us should know about. Just like one day in the future many will learn about what went down in 2020, fifty years after the Chicano Moratorium,  many things have changed – and sadly, a lot is still the same.

For more info visit https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/tdih/chicano-moratorium

Shout out to the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes for their event commemorating the Chicano Moratorium.

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