Perhaps the best historical
evocation of the National Chicano Moratorium of August 29, 1970 is out of the fiction
novel Let Their Spirits Dance by Stella Pope Duarte, which has a chapter on the
event based on interviews with Chicano Moratorium activists. The novel recounts the impact of the death of
the oldest son of a Phoenix barrio family, “el
consentido de todos,” in Vietnam
from the point of view of his younger sister.
Here are excerpts from her chapter entitled “Chicano!”
“People were chanting…Chicano—Power! Chicano—Power over and
over again, mixed in with cries of Que Viva La Raza! Raza Si!, Guerra No!,
Chale con el draft! Espi, next to me,
got into the spirit of things, lifting one fist in the air with me every time
we shouted Chicano—Power! Young people
stuck up two fingers in the form of the peace sign.
“As we moved, I began to feel full inside, as if the very
act of marching was food for my soul.
The louder the shouts became, the fuller I felt. The whole world might have ended for me at
that moment, and I would have died strong, unafraid, the aching in my heart
over Jesse’s death only a memory. I
looked on all sides of me, left, right, front, back at banners waving and at
thousands of brown faces with features that told our history---Aztec, Mayan, Olmec,
Toltec, Spanish. There were black faces
with us that day too, and white, and all of them were believing the same
thing---that the war had to end—and our boys had to come home. Here and there I saw the flashing lights of
police cars, the L.A.
sheriff, watching us from outside the line of marchers, circling around us like
buzzards, starving, desperate for death to own the living”
speech ended with the cry “Viva La Raza!” We all shouted the words
together. Then I heard someone over the
microphone say. “there’s nothing
happening back there, please everybody sit down. Everybody sit down. Stay still, por favor.” People were standing up at the west end of
the park, then more people started to stand up.
The man kept repeating the words “Everybody sit down, please remain
calm. There’s nothing happening.” Someone else got on the microphone “We got
women and children here, no queremos pedo.”
I stood on a park bench and looked over the heads of the
crowd at a line of sheriff’s deputies standing toe to toe with a line of
monitors. Behind the deputies, the
street was, the street was packed with police cars, lights blinking, sirens
“Oh my God, Teresa, there’s gonna be trouble…big
trouble”! Espi said. I heard several men’s voices over the
microphone shouting “POLICE HOLD YOUR LINE! HOLD YOUR LINE! HOLD YOUR LINE!. It
was a loud chant that rang in my ears over and over again. “HOLD YOUR LINE!
HOLD YOUR LINE! HOLD YOUR LINE!”
Suddenly the line of deputies attacked the monitors, beating the men
down. The men got up and advanced toward
them, some of them picked up rocks and threw them at the officers. Three times I saw the line of deputies
advance toward the line of monitors, pressing on them, beating them brutally
with their clubs. Then I saw smoke
rising between the people, and people gasping, choking, their eyes red,
water. “Tear gas!” somebody shouted.
Here is an excerpt from an
earlier chapter El Ganso
“By 1968, WE WERE all drowning. La raza was submerged by mainstream America, a
submarine drifting under a sea of politics, prejudice and racism. Barrios like El Cielito, ignored b the U.S.
government, suddenly appeared on Uncle Sam’s map. Chicanos who had never been thought about
before were on the list of draftees.
Uncle Sam’s finger was pointing at them, ordering them across the ocean
to war, a war that the President kept saying was a “conflict”. Minorities always attract attention when
there’s a war, and Chicanos, descendants of Aztec warriors, have always made it
to the top of the list. This was more
than just la jura, the police, picking up our boys on Saturday nights and
pumping up charges against them to “teach them Mexicans a lesson.” This was a game that said, We’re gonna pay
you for being over there, and if you don’t want to go, we’ll draft you
anyway. So why don’t you join up and
avoid all the trouble? You know you don’t want to stay in school, anyway. And lots of guys didn’t. They had families to support, they had
buddies over there. They couldn’t pick
up and run.
“Everybody was on the move in the sixties. The Chicanos, the Blacks, Native Americans,
flower children, drug addicts, demonstrators, everybody had something to
say. Hearts in El Cielito were being
plundered. La Llorona quit haunting El Cielito
at night looking for her children. She
flew over the Pacific to Vietnam
and finally quenched her thirst for the children she had drowned so long
ago. She wrapped her ghostly shroud
around Chicanos and other Latinos who were being ripped apart from their bodies
every day in the war and was satisfied at last."
Our commemoration seeks to help bring out the leading role of women in the moratoriums and the burdens of war on women. This prose poem was submitted to “Chicano Moratorium 2002” in the Network Aztlan list serve for its online commemoration
We were all victims of the war
By Patricia Lizalde
We were all victims of the war.
I married my grade school heartthrob. He was one of three sons that enlisted. He is the son of a simple and kind man. He too became kind and gentle with honest virtues of loyalty, bravery, and hardworking.
We were all victims of the war.
His was very macho family with the mind-set of 1st generation, "you don't rock the boat in this great country." I had collected petitions against the president, and to end the war. I against the wishes of my husband's family so he felt betrayed these acts of conscience. After my husbands term in the service he returned home paranoid, jealous and angry.
We were al1 victims of the war.
I went to the park with our 6 months old daughter and two-year-old son. It was a hot August day the 29th the year 1970, the air was electric with excitement. This was our anti-Vietnam War Moratorium. We settled on our blankets next to abuelos y abuelas. The platform stage held performers and speakers. The audience was preoccupied with families tending to the needs of the young. Clusters of parked baby strollers congested the area surrounding the platform. Vendors were busy selling refreshments to the thirsty crowd in the audience. We waited for the speakers on the significance of the Moratorium. I was just proud that we were able to get our act together for this event.
We are all victims of the war.
From behind the stage came officers in riot gear and rifles, gas masks and shields. It happened so quickly that it appeared to be of the performance!!! We booed and hissed!!! They had to be actors in costumes. How could they be real? The canisters of tear gas filled the air everyone scattered grabbing babies, blankets, and bags. The elders struggled to their knees trying to get up. Some staring stunned immobile by what they were witnessing. I ran with my babies covered and trying to keep my eyes open so I could reach the car, and get home. I don't know how I managed to get to the car much less drive!! What do I leave? What did I leave? From the hill one could see the smoke from Whittier Blvd.
We are all victims of the war.
When I reached home I was accused of taking part in the riot and endangering the babies. That was the beginning of a series of beatings. My husband was always angry or non-communicative. We were only one of hundreds of thousands families that fell apart due to the war. There was no comforting, no healing, and no support group, who was to blame?
We are all victims of the war.
Patricia Lizalde (Local Chicana community artist, writer and long time activist of Boyle Heights)
The Significance of Celebrating the 1969 Chicano Movement Events
By Cindy Aragon
The Walkouts of 1968 and the August 29, 1970
Moratorium tend to be two of the Chicano Movement events that are most
talked about and taught. As a result of the over-emphasis on these
events, the 1969 Chicano Movement events have been continuously glossed
over. It is my belief that 1969 was and is a pivotal year for a number
of reasons; in fact, actions taken in 1969 ensured the legacy and
success of 1968 and 1970 during the Chicano Movement.
After 1968’s Walkouts, for instance, people could
have chosen to simply forget the Walkouts and go on living their
regular lives. Chicano students could have simply gone back to
school the next day and conformed to the poor education they were
receiving. This, however, did not happened. Chicano university
students, and a number of grassroots activists instead got involved in
issues beyond education.
Some Chicanos joined the EICC where they not only
discussed educational issues, but also police brutality, discrimination
and more. Others, while at the university, got involved in other
aspects of the Chicano Movement, while others joined student groups as
well. Some, chose to challenge the Catholic Church and others
challenged the Pentagon. Others too, gave the Chicano community a
voice through the Chicano Press Association and through public TV’s
first Chicano program of Ahora. Then, there were other Chicanos
that joined the Brown Berets and protested against police brutality and
engaged in a number of civil rights actions.
In 1969, new issues came to the fore and leaders
young and old, male and female before the year of ’69 was over, made
their mark in history by raising the stakes on the challenges they
faced. Gloria Arellanes, David Sanchez, Rosal�o Mu�oz, Joe Razo
and Jes�s Salvador Trevi�o, the panelists for today’s event exemplify
the activists that emerged after the tumultuous year of 1968.
These activists, after the 1968 Walkouts saw the window of opportunity
opened wide open and not only made their way in, but inspired too, a
group of people of different ages, backgrounds and paths of life.
Now in 2009, forty years later, we as
Latinos/Chicanos have come full circle to the point where we once again
have a window of opportunity. Especially after last year’s
election where we elected the first African-American President, our
window of opportunity for political clout seems closer than ever.
In fact, we as Latinos/Chicanos now have political power and it is time
once again to decide where we go from here. Whereas in 1969
Latinos/Chicanos had no political representation, we now have a Latino
mayor in the City of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa; we have a
Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor and a Latina U.S Labor
Secretary, Hilda Solis.
The challenge for Latinos and Chicanos today;
therefore, is to decide what issues prominent today do we not have a
voice in yet, and what to do to make sure that our voice; and our input
is heard and taken into consideration.
Hoy-Los Angeles Spanish
article on moratorium commemoration
A cuatro d�cadas del Chicano
Recuerdan el movimiento que marc� el inicio de la lucha por los derechos
civiles de mexico-americanos
Francisco Castro HOY
February 26, 2010
cuatro d�cadas del Chicano Moratorium
A principios de los a�os 70, en medio de la Guerra de Vietnam, j�venes Chicanos
(estadounidenses hijos de padres mexicanos), iniciaron una serie de acciones en
contra de ese conflicto y en favor de sus derechos civiles.
El movimiento que surgi� de esas acciones qued� plasmado en los libros de texto
y en la memoria de sus participantes como
The Chicano Moratorium. Este domingo, l�deres del Chicano Moratorium planean
iniciar varias actividades para conmemorar el 40 aniversario de este movimiento
que, aseguran, dio paso a muchos de los avances sociales de los que gozan
latinos de este pa�s.
"Detuvimos que m�s latinos fueran y murieran en la guerra [de Vietnam] e
hicimos m�s hincapi� en la educaci�n superior", dijo Rosal�o Mu�oz, l�der del Chicano Moratorium.
Mu�oz dijo que ten�a 23 a�os cuando le lleg� su notificaci�n para que se
enlistara en el Ej�rcito. Pero �l se opon�a al conflicto en Vietnam, donde los latinos mor�an
en cantidades desproporcionadas en comparaci�n con otras etnias. Y aunque en el
pa�s exist�a un movimiento popular contra la guerra, los latinos "�ramos
invisibles" en �ste, se�al� el activista.
Bajo el lema de "Bring our Carnales Home" (Traigan a nuestros
hermanos de regreso a casa), Mu�oz y otros chicanos convocaron a la primera
marcha latina en contra de la guerra el 28 de Febrero de 1970. Unos 5,000
chicanos recorrieron las
Este de Los
"La idea de nosotros era que la lucha estaba aqu�, en la batalla por la
justicia social", record� Mu�oz. "Apenas el 5% de los latinos iba a
la universidad entonces, en comparaci�n con el 50% de los blancos. Nuestra
lucha era contra el racismo institucional que nos manten�a abajo, sin
oportunidades de trabajo y de educaci�n y que nos hac�a ir a la guerra".
El punto m�s fuerte del Chicano Moratorium lleg� el 29 de agosto de 1970,
cuando unas 20,000 personas marcharon hacia un parque deldel Departamento del Sheriff, que declararon
ilegal el evento.
Al no abandonar el parque, los agentes arremetieron contra la concurrencia, lo
que provoc� un caos en el que tanto autoridades comode Los Angeles Times y
del canal 34, que se encontraba en el Caf� Silver Dollar, donde hab�a ido
despu�s de cubrir la protesta.
Este de Los �ngeles. La protesta termin�
en una batalla campal entre manifestantes y agentes manifestantes resultaron con lesiones.
En la confrontaci�n, un proyectil de gases lacrim�genos disparado por un agente
del sheriff impact� a Rub�n Salazar, un reportero
Salazar, quien era conocido por abogar por los derechos de los latinos,
falleci�. El parque donde ocurrieron los hechos lleva su nombre.
Geraldine Zapata, quien particip� en la marcha, dijo que a pesar del punto negativo en
que culmin� el movimiento, s� se lograron cosas positivas. "Los muchachos
que marcharon, al llegar a sus 30 � 40 a�os empezaron a postularse para puestos
pol�ticos. Ahora tenemos poder pol�tico local, estatal y nacional",
se�al�. "Las protestas crearon una chispa de actitud de que s� se