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The Chicano movement began in the mid 1960s as an extension to the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. The movement began in the 1940s with a strategic goal of empowering the Mexican American community. The Chicano movement, also known as Chicano Civil Rights Movement, was established to tackle a wide variety of issues affecting the Mexican Americans. The restoration of farm grants, the enhancement of workers’ rights, the improvement of educational standards, as well as sensitization of political and voting rights were demanded by the representatives of this movement (Gonzales, 2000). These issues were meant to sensitize the community on the important role they would play in the collective responsibility of the American nation.
With regard to social affairs, the Chicano movement tackled the issues of ethnic stereotyping that afflicted the Mexican community. The movement was the face of the Mexican people in the American society. As such, it assumed the responsibility of enhancing the image of Mexican in the American media. The movement faced major challenges, a couple of which included conflict with the authorities. Conflicts dominated the relationships between the movement and the Los Angeles Police Department. The conflict, however, resulted to the development of the Mexican political consciousness, a scenario that enhanced their ethnic solidarity (Montejano, 1999). The awareness of their subordinated position in the American society prompted the springing of affiliates, some of which constituted of students. Nevertheless, there were a significant number of Mexicans who refused to identify with the movement. To attract more sympathizers, the group began performing plays and visual arts throughout the western part of the United States. These performances appealed because the artists were careful to present works that had the basic Mexican American ethnicity and culture. Their efforts paid of, and by the late 1960s, most Americans of the Mexican origin had accepted the term Chicano as a representation of their ethnic pride and self-determination (Mariscal, 2005).
The movement gained a lot of support amongst the students. The students considered it to be a good apparatus that would protect them from discrimination by the administrations of private and public institutions. Additionally, the Chicano movement did analyze what schools and colleges taught as pertaining the history and culture of the Mexican people in America. Citing misconceptions, the movement began the process of asserting its own views with regard to the status and history of the Mexican people in America. The 1960s presented a defining moment for a significant number of student organizations around the world. Chicano, having been rooted in activism, ceased the moment by inspiring students, and at times, prompting them to stage mass protests. Among the notable instances of mass protest there were the 1968 student walkouts in East Los Angeles and Denver. Following these actions many other walkouts followed in schools and colleges in and around Los Angeles. For instance, the students of Alhambra and El Monte are remembered for the walkouts they staged in demand for their rights. Similar demonstrations were witnessed in high schools in Houston where the students protested the demeaning academic quality being offered to the Latino students. Other students opted to stage sit-ins in an endeavor to show their displeasure with the decrease in funding for the Chicano courses (Vargas, 1999).
The mass actions by the high school students inspired growth of the Chicano movement in universities. By 1970, there were active movements in many of the universities in the west, such as the United Mexican American Students and Mexican American Youth Association/ and Organization. To boost their activism efforts, these groups resolved to join hands, a resolution which helped establish Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan. The initial goal of these organizations was to enhance academic well being of the Mexican-American youths. However, the groups’ activities grew into political activism, and this opened the doors for a variety of protests. For instance, there were frequent protests against police brutality as well as the American warfare in Southeast Asia (Vargas, 1999). Chicano inspired the founding of other youth based groups which adopted counterproductive nationalistic and militant ideologies.
The leadership of Chicano movement was shared amongst a number of leaders. Every leader specialized on matters that appeared urgent to him. For instance, in New Mexico, Lopez Tijerina specialized on issues relating to land grants. His struggle aimed at regaining the control of what were, according to him, Mexican American ancestral lands. His participation towards this course was notable. Tijerina later joined other leaders of the national civil rights movements. This raised his prominence, and in 1967, he cosponsored the Poor People’s Match on Washington. Texas activities were being coordinated by a war veteran by the name Hector P. Garcia. Dr. Garcia helped establish the American GI Forum, a step that raised his civil activism status. Consequently, he was nominated for a post in the American Commission on Civil Rights. Rodolfo Gonzales concentrated his activities in Denver. Through his artistic skills, he presented the advantage of belonging to the Chicano movement through poems. In California, Cesar Chavez helped coordinate the activities of farm workers, and when the struggle failed, the turned his focus on the afflictions of the urban youth (Mintz, 2009).
The Chicano movement had a great influence on the crusade for justice and equality, especially in Denver. The movement had unified Mexican Americans of all social background towards the uplifting their social standing in the American society. The movement gave the people of Denver and Los Angeles an opportunity to air their concerns to the relevant authorities. It did act as an inspiration for the achievement of strategic goals in politics and civil rights. As pointed earlier. The movement participation in anti-war and civil rights demonstrations gave it a national outlook (De Dwyer, 1976). As such, its ideologies appealed to other dissenters who then borrowed their slogans and tactical approaches. As such, the movement earned its place in the history of American civil struggle. Chicano has, therefore, become synonymous with the Mexican American struggle for justice and equality. Although some of the expectations of Mexican Americans did not materialize, much was achieved, and, therefore, the importance of Chicano in history is undeniable.
The Denver Westside Coalition aimed at promoting the identity of Mexican Americans through the enhancement of their education, economic, and social accomplishments. However, as time went by, challenges became severe. The initial challenge was the refusal of a number of Mexican Americans to identify with the coalition. They argued that such an identity would place them in a subordinate position in the society, as it would appear to be an appreciation that they were not true Americans. Besides, the coalition diversified its objectives, a situation which reduced its focus on the afflictions of the Mexican American community (Acuna, 1988). Some of the members drowned into the national politics, a scenario that resulted into the loss of ideology for the group. Nevertheless, the coalition did achieve its strategic goals to a certain extent. It helped boost the morale of Americans with Mexican roots, and this achievement inspired them to increase their participation in the state and national politics.