Almost a half-century after the East Los Angeles Walkouts, the much larger Chicano population in L.A and the U.S. today still experiences many of the same deficiencies in their educational opportunities that led to these landmark protests. But students definitely achieved one of their most important goals. The walkouts raised awareness of inequality in public education and other civil rights afforded to Mexican-Americans. In 1970, the Senate Select Committee on Equal Educational Opportunities was convened to begin addressing these issues. “The discrimination against Mexican American children both within and out of schools is as serious and prevalent as it is against other minorities,” said committee chairman Walter Mondale (U.S. Senate 1970). The committee heard testimonies from several East L.A. Chicano educational leaders.
The East L.A. Walkouts were not just a turning point for Chicano education— they are seen by many as the beginning of the national Chicano Movement for civil rights. The bold actions of the youth of Los Angeles inspired a multi-generational struggle for justice that united Chicanos throughout the nation. But first, the students had to unify and organize their own movement within Los Angeles. My study of the Blowouts has shown how the students and their supporters launched a coordinated assault on the unjust status quo by using subversive mobility. In the spring of 1968, these students were able to use different kinds of mobility to take control of space. And by doing so, they exercised greater power and control over their city than they ever had before.
I hope that this project inspires other historians to conduct their own investigations of subversive mobility. The more that this concept is visualized and explained, the more we will understand about how people have struggled for social justice throughout history.
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