Students across the Southwest walked out of class in the late 1960s and early 1970s to protest what they believed to be discriminatory policies directed at Mexican American students, including a ban on speaking Spanish on campus.
Mario Compean and Aurelio Montemayor were co-chairs of a recent conference in San Antonio that reflected on the Chicano student walkouts, 50 years later.
From Los Angeles to Crystal City, Texas, Chicanos took a stand and demanded equal treatment, better conditions and access to higher education.
Compean and Montemayor recalled their first-hand experience with the movement and are now looking to future generations to continue their civil rights work.
Compean co-founded the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO), La Raza Unida Party and is president of Academia América, a group that provides education programs and services to immigrants. Montemayor is family engagement coordinator with the Intercultural Development Research Association, a group that aims to achieve equal opportunities for children in public schools.
Montemayor also testified in 1968 at a civil rights hearing in San Antonio that focused on the challenges facing Mexican Americans.
Compean and Montemayor co-chaired the November 2019 Walkout!: National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference, which was held in San Antonio at Our Lady of the Lake University and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown campus. Faculty, academic researchers, community leaders and current students reflected on the impact the protests had on educational and economic opportunities for Mexican Americans today.
Along with the collection of oral histories at the conference, a scholarship program designed to motivate current youth to pursue post-secondary education as scholars of the Chicano Movement was introduced.