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Latino/a Mobility in California History

Genevieve Carpio, Javier Cienfuegos, Ivonne Gonzalez, Karen Lazcano, Katherine Lee Berry, Joshua Mandell, Christofer Rodelo, Alfonso Toro, Authors

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Mobility Through Media

Students exercised mobility in the physical, and most visible sense by leaving school to participate in a demonstration on a scale never before seen in Mexican-American history. But before the blowouts began, the ideological foundation of these protests took shape in student-produced publications. During the protests, students and their allies continued to use the power of the printed word to make their demands travel farther and faster than they could march. Underground publications and signage should be considered alongside the walkouts as a complimentary form of subversive mobility. 

Inside Eastside was one of the most influential of these publications. Raul Ruiz edited this biweekly newspaper in the basement of the Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights. Students from multiple Eastside high schools contributed to the paper. Inside Eastside did more than report news of the blowouts. It was a public forum for impassioned, opinionated student voices, featuring writers who were determined to ensure that the blowouts would be a meaningful contribution to a national movement for Chicano Power.

In a March 1968 issue of Inside Eastside, published just after the blowouts had started, Garfield High School student Eddie Pardo called out his fellow students for participating in the protests without a sense of purpose. Some students, he said, just wanted to be in on the action, and follow their friends, and didn’t understand the larger issues behind the blowouts. He also criticized the Los Angeles school system for making false promises to students, and voiced dissatisfaction with parents, teachers and administrators. But at the conclusion of his essay, he expressed optimism that all of these parties could collaborate:

“The Mexican-American students have long accepted as truth the axiom that Chicanos can’t make it, that we’re dumber than the “average human being” which any way you look at it, is just not true. But now is our chance to all work together. School system, stop shining us on! Parents, give us the moral support we need! Administartion [sic], be the link between the students and the school board! AND STUDENTS!!! FIND OUT WHERE IT’S AT BEFORE YOU WALK OUT AGAIN! Together, all five of us may scrap out something good.” (Pardo 1968)

In the same issue, another essay spoke to fellow students in a similar way to sustain the protests' momentum, and remind readers of its greater meaning:

“We are demanding equality and justice, but do we deserve it?…When the ball starts rolling, are we going to keep it going with hard work and dedication? Or are we going to take a siesta when it gets a little hot?” (Baca 1968). 

The next document featured in the slideshow is front page of a pamphlet distributed around Garfield High— the remainder did not make it into the archive. The author and date of publication are unknown. But its aggressive tone towards the school— and fellow students — is similar to the same sort of accusatory rhetoric seen in Inside Eastside. It appears that these student authors used a common tactic to drum up the mass participation in the blowouts that would be necessary to their success. 

Lastly, the slideshow features a newspaper advertisement and a bumper sticker that showed support for Sal Castro, who was suspended from teaching after being arrested during the blowouts. The plight of Castro and a dozen student leaders of the protests served as another crucial rallying point for East L.A. Chicanos in the months following the blowouts. The ad and the sticker expressed their outrage in simple terms and made it visible all over the city. 

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