By Edward Mahurien
Nearly 200 students packed the Nordic Lounge on Tuesday, May 21, to see the Civic Engagement Club’s presentation of “Chicano!” about the 1968 walkouts at Los Angeles high schools.
The standing-room-only crowd was first shown parts of a documentary including original film footage of the walkouts with interviews from people today followed by a speech from one of the students, Paula Crisostomo, who participated and was charged.
Crisostomo spoke about the treatment Mexican-American students received, citing the nearly 60 percent drop-out rate, a rate she says is nearly identical to today as well as many of the reasons for the walkouts.
Among the biggest topics were bilingual education and more Latino teachers and administrators.
The Civic Engagement Club’s goal was to raise awareness to the often forgotten aspect of the civil rights movement.
Club Vice President Cedric Anderson said the club’s goal was met. “We were really happy with the outcome. We wanted to show the power of student involvement and encourage students to get involved and be active.”
The film highlighted the 13 students who were arrested and charged with felony counts of conspiracy to disturb schools and the peace
The 1968 walkouts or “blowouts” as they were known took place over a few weeks and centered on high schools in East Los Angeles, starting at Garfield High School. Young Latino students felt they weren’t given the basic educational opportunities.
For many of the students in attendance, largely from humanities, history and social science classes, the film was the first time they had heard about the protests.
“Many people don’t know about this, but the information is out there. We can learn about it, we can help be a part of the solution and raise awareness and sensitivity,” Anderson said.