April 18, 2008

Walkout, A Film About Chicano Student Protests, to Screen

UC San Diego Presents as Part of César Chávez Celebration

The HBO production Walkout (2006), a film that tells the true story of Chicano/a students in East Los Angeles in 1968 who walked out of their schools in protest of unequal treatment, will screen at 6 p.m. April 22 in the Student Services Multipurpose Room at the University of California, San Diego.

Teacher and mentor Sal Castro, who lost his job supporting the students, will join the discussion following the screening. The event is part of UC San Diego’s monthlong celebration of the life and accomplishments of labor leader and champion of human rights, César E. Chávez. It is free and open to the public.

“The East L.A. blowouts were a decisive moment in the history of Mexican Americans,” says Jorge Mariscal, director of the UC San Diego Chicano/a-Latino/a Arts and Humanities Program (CLAH) and chair of the 2008 César E. Chávez Celebration Planning Committee.

“Led by students, teachers, and parents, the movement for educational reform soon grew into a larger protest over racism, economic injustice, and the U.S. war in Vietnam. One of the great leaders who came out of the movement was educator Sal Castro. It is a great honor to welcome him back to UC San Diego.”

At Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles, Chicano/a students became increasingly aware of educational funding, high dropout rates, a curriculum with no recognition of Chicano history, institutional racism, and the small number of Mexican American teachers. They shared their concerns with students in surrounding schools and organized the walkout or blowout. One day in early March of 1968 hundreds of high school students walked out of their classes to demand an end to the second-class citizenship they and their parents suffered.

A mentor in the walkout, the Mexican American teacher Castro, and 12 other Chicano activists were charged with conspiracy – charges that were later dropped when the East L.A. community rallied around the activists. Castro continues to educate youth from all communities.

Walkout is directed by actor/director Edward James Olmos who calls the walkout “the largest high school student demonstration that we’ve ever had in the United States.” At one point, 22,000 kids stood up and walked out of their classes in the L.A. County area.

Prior to the film’s screening, the UC San Diego Chicano/Latino Alumni Association will present two scholarships to current UC San Diego students.

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