Chicano moratorium celebrates fiftieth anniversary

By Melvin Bui

Hundreds of people rallied to march for about two and half miles in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium on Aug 29.
There were two meeting places: People walking met at Atlantic Park, while other drove down Whittier Boulevard from Pico Rivera.
However, the two groups joined together as the march began and went west toward Salazar Park.
ELAC Campus News photographer Diego Linares was present and said people marched on foot, rode their bikes, skateboards while others drove their cars to Whittier Boulevard.
People were wearing masks to comply with the proper COVID-19 procedures.
“In August 29,1969, it happened and it was glorious. It was a fiesta and a political movement, walking down the heart of East Los Angeles,” said moratorium co-organizer Rosalio Munoz in a Los Angeles Times interview.
The Chicano Moratorium was a peaceful protest that turned chaotic when police came bearing arms and startled people.
Buildings were burned, people were hurt and the trust in authorities was lost.
There were four casualties. Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben F. Salazar was one of them; he became a casualty during a botched crowd de-escalation attempt by the Los Angeles County Sheriff.
Salazar was inside the Silver Dollar Bar when it was tear-gassed and was instantly killed when a tear-gas canister hit his head.
There were no criminal charges filed, but the family was able to file an out-of-court financial settlement with the county. They renamed Laguna Park to Salazar Park in honor of him.
Salazar’s death sparked ambition amongst the Chicano community to be the representation that they sought.
People became doctors, lawyers, politicians, journalists and more after his death.
Professor Rudolph Flores said that there wasn’t much ethnic diversity among the staff, so being one of the only Chicano faculty members felt spiritual.
The Chicano Studies Department was formed a few years after the Chicano Moratorium.
The department was made by borrowing faculty from other departments like Art, Sociology, Poli-Sci and History, said Flores. The Chicano Studies Department was formerly known as Mexican American Studies.
“People of the community advocated for the name change of the department,” said Chicano Studies Professor Haydee Urita-Lopez.
The campus started to become more diverse toward the end of the twentieth century as more ethnic representation among faculty grew.
The Chicano Moratorium is also known as the National Chicano Moratorium Committee Against the Vietnam War.
Thousands of anti-war activists gathered in East Los Angeles to peacefully protest. It was an event organized by the Brown Berets. They were a pro-Chicano organization that had a large following among college and high school students.
Its values were focused around higher education, helping farmworkers and opposing systematic oppression.
“Not much has changed since the first Chicano Moratorium there is still civil unrest, Black Lives Matter and police oppression is still prevalent,” said Professor Flores.
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) is a student run club that focuses on creating opportunities, higher education and remembering history.
Professor Urita-Lopez oversees the ELAC chapter of MEChA. She said that MEChA helps motivate students to transfer to a-four-year institutions by having graduated club members speak about their academic journey.
The club focuses on community outreach, motivating students to transfer and helping students become more goal oriented. It has helped local businesses and activists promote their work.
The club started at the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. They advocated for non-violence and student organizing.
However it was officially founded at UC Santa Barbara during the late 1960s and was formerly known as the Mexican American Student Association (MASA).

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