Enshrined in the laws that govern the United States, the right to freedom of expression has permanently solidified a part of the identity of the American people. Listed as the first amendment, the right to express oneself freely is intrinsic and seemingly embedded in the psyche of American people. One of the ways freedom of expression is best exercised is in the manner of protest. The utilization of activism in the United States has played a vital role in the creation of our laws or societal norms; we can see these implications in the amendment process, and even the abolishment of certain laws/ideas about our constitution. The effects of activism can be felt at both the local and federal levels while having a firm presence that can be seen in alteration of the public sphere on certain stigmas and ideologies. Whether it is social, environmental, economic or political activism, activism in the form of mobilization of the people has been a catalyst for change in the country since its inception. Like many other influential and impactful social reform movements during the 20th century such as the Black Panthers, members of the Feminist movement, and the LGBT movement, the Chicano/a movement possessed a vital role in the civil rights movement. All of these reform movements created better improvements within their own respective communities, but regardless of who these civil rights groups identify with, these reform movements have played a part in creating a more inclusive and equal America for everyone. With this in mind, the position of the Chicano/a movement has contributed to the greater civil rights movement in many ways, but two important accomplishments come in the success efforts in education. The precedent under a basis of legality by having success in the dismantlement of students in schools before the landmark case of Brown Vs. Board of Education and the creation and implementation of a curriculum that pertains to Chicano history in the United States and how Chicanos/as have navigated in the U.S. The bulk of this work will review through a series of primary and secondary sources, the social reform on part of Chicano/a activism. Examining the Chicano/a political and social groups in protest during the civil rights era, the legislative achievements and foundational changes in education, and the lasting effects of the Chicano/a movement and Chicano/a activism in general.
Historically, the origin of the Chicano/a movement and involvement began to see its formations since the end of the U.S.–Mexican War in 1848. A large part of the creation of a Chicano-oriented movement was because the construction of what is now the southern border in the United States. Facing racist and xenophobic sentiment due to the newly created border, many Chicanos and Chicanas as a result came together to advocate against discrimination, racism and exploitation. We have seen this as well in the Zoot Suit riots of the 1940’s, but the Chicano movement as we know it today saw its first enactment in the labor worker struggle of Cesar Chavez. As a result of organizing and fighting for change, a foundation of what later becomes Chicano/a activism began to flourish. The Chicano Movement that culminated in the early 1970s took inspiration from heroes and heroines from their own Mexican and American past, encompassing a unique perspective that is distinct and is neither entirely Mexican or American. The origin of the Chicano/a movement that is associated today began around between 1966 and 1977, members of the Mexican-American community came together and participated in a period of widespread political activism similar to other civil rights movements and antiwar movements of the 1960s. Most of the challenges and ideologies that the civil rights movement faced such as equal rights, simultaneously became the very same fight the Chicano/a movement was fighting, but with an emphasized notion of Mexican-American empowerment. It created a revitalized atmosphere within the Chicano/a community and established a much closer relationship, especially concerning the youth. As one can see more closely, it is not a question of whether or not the Chicano/a matters and is a part of United States history, it is the realization that black and brown folk were conducting and participating in the same mission to establish equality amongst the citizens of the country.
The focus of this work will analyze, evaluate, and recognize the role and lasting effects of Chicano activism in the greater civil rights movement in order to demonstrate the historical, social, and political significance of the Chicano movement in the civil rights movement and in general, social activism. Illuminating the multi-layered approach of Chicano activism highlights the educational struggle and legal impact concerning de-segregation in schools, educational quality, adding inclusive curriculum, utilizing art as a progressive means of activism, social reform both at the local and national level, and overall accessibility to Latinos, but people of color as a whole in higher education. Most importantly, this work will attempt to showcase the role Chicanos and Chicanas contributed to the civil rights era, which is one of the most important social reform eras of our nation. However, we will analyze the impact of Chicano activism through the Civil Rights era and up to modern day to better understand the role the Chicano movement played and still plays. The reason why this is apart and significant to the history of the United State since 1877 is because this covers a similar struggle many other minority groups and civil rights groups endured. It has not received enough national attention and recognition for the efforts the Chicano movement and Chicano activism in total, did to civil rights and education reform.