Quixote Soldiers, tells a story about the struggles for Mexican-American rights
By Sasha D. Robinson
The African-American civil rights movement helped spearhead the Chicano movement, Dr. David Montejano, professor and author, said at the Ozuna Library at Palo Alto College Oct 12.
The speech was a part of the Hispanic Heritage Month observation and attended by about 50 students, staff and faculty.
“Much of Hispanic history has been sanitized, revised and we forget about the struggle that we have been through,” Montejano said in discussing his book “Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement 1966-1981.”
Montejano is a professor in the graduate school at the University of California.
The farm workers strike of 1966 helped start the Chicano movement for higher wages, enforcement of state labor laws and recognition of the Farm Worker Union.
Montejano said that even though it did not happen in San Antonio, some Hispanics here worked in the fields, and everyone knew a farm worker.
During the farm worker strike, the people organized outside stores in San Antonio with signs that read “Don’t buy grapes” or “Don’t buy lettuce.”
“We were told ‘you do not want to act like the blacks,’” Monejano said the older generation told the younger generation.
The older generation did not want the Mexican-American Youth Organization, or MAYO, to challenge the norm.
MAYO fought against poverty, employment discrimination and police brutality that affected the lives of Hispanics and demanded the addition of Mexican-American history to school curriculum as means of cultivating ethnic pride in children of Mexican ancestry.
Jose Yznaga, who graduated with a degree in Mexican-American studies from Palo Alto College in 2014, said that when he was about 12 years old, his grandmother tried to discourage him from being a part of the Chicano Movement.
“I remember I told my grandmother I wanted to be a Chicano because I admired the way they were marching for equality,” Yznaga said. “My grandmother told me no because Chicanos are like being communists.”
“Quixtote’s Soldiers” is about the end of segregation in the Jim Crow era.
Other notable parts of the Chicano Movement were high schools students in San Antonio walking out of their classrooms in 1968 to demand a better education.
Students were chafing at a curriculum that pushed them toward manual labor, and away from college with broken windows, no hot water, old books, dingy walls and no air conditioning in high schools like Lanier and Edgewood high schools, according to an article in the San Antonio Express-News Aug. 15, 2015, reflecting on the march.
By the start of the new school year, changes were made by removing the Edgewood school district superintendent and refurbishing the schools. High school bands got new uniforms and instruments.
In 1963, Reies Lopez Tijerina fought to win compensation for descendants of families whose land was seized illegally.
Members of the Brown Berets attended Montejano’s presentation.
The Brown Berets are a pro-Chicano organization that emerged during the Chicano Movement in the late 1960s.
Montejano, a native of San Antonio, received a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D in sociology from Yale University.
Among his publications are two prize-winning historical overviews, “Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986” and Quixote’s Soldiers: A Local History of the Chicano Movement 1966-81.”
Most recently, Montejano authored the first volume of his trilogy, “Sancho’s Journal: Exploring the Political Edge with the Brown Berets.”
The University of Texas Press published all three books.