What does an education that honors all students look like and feel like? Why is it important for students to have such an education?
In this lesson, students will learn about the relationship between education, identity, and activism through an exploration of the 1968 East Los Angeles school walkouts. Thousands of students in LA public schools (where a majority of students were Mexican American) walked out of their schools to protest unequal educational opportunities and to demand an education that valued their culture and identities. Learning about this history provides students with an opportunity to reflect on the importance of an education that honors the identities of its students.
Over the course of several weeks in March 1968, thousands of mostly Latinx students walked out of public schools in Los Angeles in protest because their schools did not offer equal educational opportunities for Mexican American students and did not honor those students’ identities and culture. This series of protests is known as the East LA school “walkouts” or “blowouts.” Before teaching this lesson, learn more about the student walkouts by watching 19:50–30:55 of the episode Prejudice and Pride from the PBS documentary Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation.
The East LA school walkouts were one manifestation of the Chicano Movement, which promoted the rights of Mexican Americans in the United States throughout the 1960s and 1970s. To learn more about the Chicano Movement, review the reading Background on the Chicano Movement.