chapter  1
16 Pages


On December 9, 1969, the Chicano students in Crystal City, Texas,1

staged a three-week walkout in protest against the discriminatory policies practiced by the Anglo school staff and administration (Hardgrave and Hinojosa 1975; Gutiérrez 1976). The walkout drew attention to a series of petitions presented to the school board calling for relevant, equal quality education. The third and most recent petition listed a series of demands, among them a call for bilingual/bicultural education, the creation of a Mexican American history course for credit, and the recognition of Diez y Seis de Septiembre as a Mexican American holiday.2 The local struggle for relevant equal quality education had been a long one and had been brought to regional and national attention by the massive student walkout. The walkout strategy was effective and the students and parents won some initial concessions from the Anglo administration (Smith and Foley 1975). However, the victory was more of a moral victory than an actual change in the structure of ethnic power relations in the schooling domain. Nonetheless, the sense of victory for the ethnic group after the walkout ended is attributed to "viewing the walkout as a statement of contemporary ethnic identity [which] underscores the confrontation's historical significance" (Smith and Foley 1975:164). The victory signaled the end of the era of local Anglo control and ultimately led to Chicano control over schooling.