Mi Raza Primero! (My People First!): Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966-1978

By Ernesto Chávez | Go to book overview

2
“Birth of a New Symbol”
The Brown Berets

In January 1967 Time magazine declared: “The Man of the Year 1966 is a generation: the man—and woman—of 25 and under. ” 1 The youth of the sixties, observed Time, are “well-educated, affluent, rebellious, responsible, pragmatic, idealistic, brave, 'alienated,' and hopeful. ” 2 People of color were not well educated and affluent, but their desire to be so and also to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination in American society caused them to strike out at that society in ways that were both similar to and strikingly different from the efforts of earlier generations. For Mexican Americans, no group better illustrated the rebellious 1960s and 1970s than the Brown Berets.

As shown in the previous chapter, by 1966 the Mexican American Political Association's approach to empowering Mexican Americans had proved inadequate. This ineffectiveness combined with the general protest environment of the later 1960s to ensure a new style of politics known as the Chicano movement. The Mexican protonationalism that an older generation used as an oppositional tool was transformed into a Chicano nationalism when suffused with the anti-Americanism of the Vietnam era. Though the issues faced by the ethnic Mexican community were similar to those confronted earlier, the approach to them now differed. Instead of relying on the ballot box, Chicano activists took to the streets and demanded change through protest. This is not to say that

-42-

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Mi Raza Primero! (My People First!): Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966-1978
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction - Those Times of Revolution 1
  • 1 - Los Angeles's Ethnic Mexican Community in the 1950s and Early 1960s 9
  • 2 - The Brown Berets 42
  • 3 - The Chicano Moratorium Committee 61
  • 4 - La Raza Unida Party 80
  • 5 - The Centro De Acción Social Autónomo (Casa) 98
  • Afterword - Why Are We Not Marching like in the '70s? 117
  • Notes 121
  • Bibliography 149
  • Index 159
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