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Social Movements - Chicano and Chicana Civil Rights Movement

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Social Movements

Chicano and Chicana civil rights movement

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Social Movements

Chicano and Chicana civil rights movement

The Chicano and Chicana civil rights movement, also known as the El Movimiento in Spanish or Chicano Movement was mainly a social, educational and political justice journey. The main purpose of this movement was to attain social empowerment and liberation for the Mexican- American ethnic community. The United States in the 1960s was at the height of the Civil Rights period that was characterized by the strife between the discriminated ethnic communities and the white mainstream community that was the dominant oppressor. This is an era in which there were injustices and inequalities in societal issues across the United States. These issues became the main concerns for the ethnic communities to come together with one political and social consciousness in fighting for their human rights as the United States citizens. The moves of the ethnic communities led to various social uprisings against the injustices of an unequal society.

Among the communities fighting for their human rights were the African-Americans, Asian Americans, Mexican- Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans and many others. Their goal was to attain equal treatment in societal issues such as education, political equality, better working conditions, and social liberation and empowerment. The effort in fighting for these concerns led to many changes especially in the self-identity of these communities. For instance, the African Americans referred to themselves as blacks while the Mexican -Americans formed a new identity by referring to themselves as the Chicano or the Chicana. These are terms that united all the people of the La Raza Race, which was previously a derogatory term that was used to refer to this community. The new identity became the show of a commonly shared ethnic, political and cultural identity.

Structured Inequality/Rationale

The Chicano/ Chicana identity became a commonly known symbolic term that was used to associate the Mexican-American community towards the common cause or the La Causa. The main concerns of the Chicano movement ranged from educational reforms and political campaigns. The Chicano movements according to some scholars were a continuation of the Civil Rights movements fought by the Mexican- Americans during the 1940's. However, the issues relating to social and educational liberation are by nature dissimilar. This, therefore, means that the Chicano movement issues of concern did not have a direct relation with the Civil Rights movement of the Mexican- Americans during the 1940's.

Contrary to this perspective, modern day scholars believe that the Chicano movement started in 1848. This was a time in which Mexico was defeated by the United States during a land conquest between the two nations in a war of 1846. The United States managed to annex more than six states in the southwest region of America. The result of this was the Mexican cession under the treaty of Guadalupe- Hidalgo of 1848. Establishing the origin of the Chicano movement is generally ambiguous, but still represents the ethnic struggle that has gone on for many decades up to the present day.

During the 1960's and 1970s, the Chicano Independent activists began a quest for their homeland, which they referred to it as the Aztlan, their land of origin. This land is in the Northern Region of Mexico which is the present day U.S. Southwest region. The main reason to repose these lands was with the desperate need of the Mexican- Americans to culturally and socially establish their personal Chicano and Chicana society. This society would be under their personal and direct control separate from the white mainstream society influence.

In March 1969, the very first National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference was held in Colorado, Denver. This conference gave birth to a new manifesto for Chicano nationalists. The manifesto is known as the El Plan Spiritual de Aztlan, which became a significant cultural and political aspect to the Chicano movement. The manifesto advocated for the self determination and nationalism for all members of the movement, the Mexican- Americans. The manifestos call for nationalism was placed major emphasis as being an essential aspect for mass organization and mobilization. Based on the commitment of the manifesto, they were able to air out their need for cultural, economic, social and political independence as a totally new form of liberation from social injustices resulting from racism, exploitation and oppression. The struggle of this movement was to gain control of the Chicano



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