Chicanos have been expected to straddle multiple worlds at once – the indigenous and European roots making up mestizo heritage, learning and speaking the language of successive colonizers, and being considered immigrants in a country that was once theirs. Through the Chicano Movement, these worlds collided, laying bare the irony of a loyal population in love with a country that frequently didn’t love them back.
The Chicano Movement had many branches that sometimes converged; The Crusade for Justice supporting the United Farm Workers with their grape strike, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta supporting the Coors boycott and New Mexico’s Reies Lopez Tijerina, serving as a regional organizer for the Poor People’s Campaign.
This 5-part series on the Chicano Movement has been an attempt at providing a glimpse of the complexity that comprised the era. The Crusade for Justice gave voice and structure to a talented population tired of institutionalized racism – “Ya, basta!” The West High walkouts inspired a new generation of Chicano activists and exposed disparities in education. Reies Lopez Tijerina’s New Mexican land battle exposed U.S. hypocrisy and violations of treaties throughout history. The Coors boycott epitomized the Chicano movement in Colorado; homegrown and centralized, the Colorado Chicano contingent brought national attention to discrimination in employment and helped to put Denver on the activist map. The Vietnam War was another case of social gymnastics for Chicanos. Whether soldier, conscientious objector, or street protestor, Chicanos had no easy choices during the Vietnam War. Chicanos sacrificed and served in disproportionate numbers and always served on the front lines abroad and at home.
The U.S. Chicano Movement solidified in Colorado and the legacy of the movement is the foundation for our current success in education, business and politics. Though the work is not close to being done, the prospects are much brighter because of the men and women who sacrificed during the 60’s and 70’s of the Chicano Movement.
Part 1 www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8071
Part 2 www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8082
Part 3 www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8093
Part 4 www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8102
Part 5 www.lavozcolorado.com/detail.php?id=8112