California State University, Long Beach

Chicano Student Movement


The 1960s was a time of change. The Black civil right movement, opposition to the war in Vietnam, student protests for more relevant classes, farm workers organizing unions, New Mexican farmers asserting ownership of public land, hippies advocating love were among the agents of change. In the midst of all of this, Mexican American students were going to college in larger numbers than ever before, many as the first one in their families to do so, and wondering where they fit into all of these changes. Drawing on the example of earlier Mexican American activists, such as those who organized to secure justice for the young men accused of the Sleepy Lagoon murders, or elected Edward Roybal to the Los Angeles City Council, they began to organize among themselves. At first, the students wanted to be able to recognize themselves in the curriculum. They wanted classes that were relevant to their lives and that taught them about their families, their language and their culture. In Los Angeles, they named one of the first groups they formed United Mexican American Students. As more groups were formed in more schools in more parts of the United States, student leaders began to consider working together and choosing a common name. Francisco Hidalgo describes how this change occurred and discusses some of the ideas that were important to the students. The new name they chose was Movimiento Estudantil Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA). Through that organization, they fought for the establishment of Chicano Studies program in colleges and universities throughout the United States. One of the first was at San Fernando Valley State College, whose name was later changed to California State University, Northridge. The first professor hired in this new department was Rodolfo Acuna, one of the narrators in this series. Another narrator, Pat Moscorro, was an early member of the Chicano Studies Department at CSULB. The two other narrators describe how the Chicano movement influenced their lives and work.

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