Chicano!

DVD

2 DVDs, 115 minutes each
Source: Out of print

Since the time of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, Mexican-Americans have struggled to achieve equality and full rights as citizens of the United States. This 4-part series examines pivotal events concerning land, labor, education, and political empowerment that took place between 1965 and 1975, the period that was the focus of the Mexican-American civil rights movement.

Disc 1:
1. Quest for a Homeland
Examines the events at Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, which sparked a national movement for social justice. It focuses on the 1967 struggle by Mexican Americans to regain ownership of New Mexico lands guaranteed to them by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the Denver Youth Conference of 1969 where hundreds of Mexican-American youths met to plan their national agenda, and the Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War in 1970.

2. The Struggle in the Fields
Chronicles the efforts of farm workers to form a national labor union. Under the leadership of nonviolence advocate César Chávez, farm workers launched a strike against California grape growers in 1965, demanding better working conditions and fair wages. In 1970, they undertook a national table grape boycott that eventually led to the first union contracts in farm labor history. An important milestone in the struggle was the passing of the California Labor Relations Act.

Disc 2:
3. Taking Back the Schools
Documents the Mexican-American struggle to reform an educational system that failed to properly educate Chicano students, causing more than 50 percent to drop out and leaving many others illiterate and unskilled. It focuses on the 1968 walkout by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles, which resulted in conspiracy indictments against 13 students and community leaders. This event was emblematic of a national movement for improved educational opportunities.

4. Fighting for Political Power
Focuses on the creation of a third political party, La Raza Unida (The United People). The film opens with a large exodus of Anglo citizens from Crystal City, Texas, after five Mexican-Americans were elected to political office in the town. The film also shows how a protest against a high school cheerleading tradition pitted the Mexican-American population against the town's Anglo-American power structure. La Raza Unida inspired a generation of political activists and pioneered voter registration strategies that led to the election of thousands of Chicanos to political office.

Related lesson:
Taking a Stand: Models of Civic Participation

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