In March 1968, Sal Castro, a Mexican-American teacher in East Los Angeles, encouraged thousands of Chicano students to walk out of their high schools to protest decades of inferior or discriminatory education in the so-called “Mexican Schools.” Castro encouraged the students to make their grievances public after school administrators and board members failed to listen to them.
The walkouts — or “blowouts,” as they were called — began a slow process of reforms in schools across the country.
Castro, who died in 2013, is being remembered at UC Santa Barbara through a lecture named in his honor. The first annual Sal Castro Memorial Lecture will take place at noon on Friday, Feb. 20, in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.
The inaugural speaker will be Rosalio Muñoz, a longtime community activist in Los Angeles who led the Chicano anti-Vietnam War movement during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the National Chicano Antiwar Moratorium in East Los Angeles, which was organized by Muñoz. On Aug. 29, 1970, over 20,000 people, mostly Chicanos, protested the war in Vietnam in what became the largest demonstration of the Chicano Movement and the largest Mexican-American civil rights movement in U.S. history.
Muñoz’s talk is titled “Raza Si! Guerra No! Legacies and Lessons of the National Chicano Antiwar Moratorium 45 Years Later.”
“Sal Castro represents the epitome of a committed teacher who always struggled for his students and for their rights to a good and equal education,” said Mario García, professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies and of history at UCSB and the lecture organizer. “He understood that civil rights also meant educational justice.”
As Castro was, Muñoz is a major historical figure in the history of the Chicano Movement. “He led the effort and struggle to make the Vietnam War a Chicano issue because of the damage the war was doing to young Chicano men disproportionately being drafted into the military and due to the cutbacks in federal anti-poverty programs to pay for the war. He knew that the Vietnam War was not a war of necessity but of choice and it was not in the interests of common Americans.”
More information about the lecture can be found at http://www.chicst.ucsb.edu/news/event/250.