The Chicano Movement and the Civil Rights
The term Chicano, derived form Mexican Spanish, became popular in the late-1960s among politically active groups. Chicano and Chicana are still in frequent use but have become less politicized in recent decades. However, some Mexican-Americans with less militant political views might find the terms offensive.
It could be said that the Chicano Movement timidly started at the end of the Mexican American War in 1848, when the border changed and roughly 80,000 Mexicans became American citizens overnight. From then on, Chicanos have fought for their rights and the end of discrimination and racism. Their efforts attracted new attention during the 1960s, one of the most turbulent decades in American History. In California, César Chávez struggled to unionize farm workers in the Central Valley of California. Efforts on behalf of farm inspired many Mexican Americans during this era. Colorado saw the appearance of Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez, and important figure who reached out to Chicano youth, who founded the Crusade for Justice in Denver in 1966, and who defined Chicano Nationalism through his poem "
I am Joaquín.
Community leaders, scholars, educators, students, activists and artists joined the movement. Leaders such as Corky Gonzalez, César Chavez, Dolores Huerta and José ¡ngel Gutierrez gave a great impulse to the movement and worked toward a broad cross section of issues. In New Mexico, Reies López Tijerina and members of his Land Grant Movement tried to convince the federal government to honor the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848), and they worked to regain control of ancestral lands. These leaders gave a voice to the Movement and called attention to the issues Chicanos faced for a long time. Many Chicanos became politically active during these years demanding the restoration of land grants, farm worker's rights, the right to vote and equal employment opportunities.
A very important element of the Chicano Movement was education. Many activists struggled to minimize the number of dropouts from schools, to develop bilingual-bicultural education programs, to increase financial aid programs and to expand the number of Chicano faculty and administrators in schools.
A major element of the Movement was the development of Chicano art as a prime vehicle of political activism and as a way to stimulate cultural pride. The murals, as well as all the artistic manifestations helped define Mexican Americans' sense of their own common history.