Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974

By Gordon K. Mantler | Go to book overview

6 Multiracial Efforts, Intra-racial Gains

On May 29, symbolism of a different sort played out in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building. After a boisterous demonstration against a recent ruling on American Indian fishing rights, hundreds of protesters had begun to trek back to the Hawthorne School, when local police officers attacked. Prompted by what the media called lewd gestures by Chicano teens, officers on motorcycles set off a scuffle when they attempted to break marchers’ ranks and nearly ran over several small children in the process. While the horrified crowd watched, officers then beat and arrested about a dozen young men protecting the children, including Ernesto Vigil of the Crusade for Justice and Danny Tijerina, one of Reies Tijerina’s sons. Bloodied and disoriented, the men then were taken to jail for the afternoon, leaving the remaining protesters shaken and angry about what they considered an unprovoked assault. Yet activists like Corky Gonzales, Ralph Abernathy, and Hank Adams were not surprised by the viciousness. They had seen it before.1

But for many of the younger Chicanos present, such as nineteen-yearold Gloria Arellanes, this experience was new. Certainly, the Brown Beret had heard about police brutality, but she never had seen such an attack by the authorities. “It was the first time I had ever (seen) anybody brutally beaten,” Arellanes said. “Looking into the faces of these police officers, you could see so many different emotions. I remember one young man, just so embarrassed. You could see his pain.”2 In fact, this was just one of many new things Arellanes encountered in Washington, her first time to the nation’s capital. Before that spring, she had met very few Chicana or Chicano activists outside of her immediate world in East Los Angeles and El Monte, California. Nor had she seen white people so poor. But this all began to change when she and her fellow Brown Berets joined the campaign with enthusiasm after hearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for a new multiracial alliance of the poor.3

-154-

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Power to the Poor: Black-Brown Coalition and the Fight for Economic Justice, 1960-1974
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Abbreviations in the Text xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1- The "Rediscovery" of Poverty 15
  • 2- First Experiments 40
  • 3- War, Power, and the New Politics 65
  • 4- Poverty, Peace, and King’s Challenge 90
  • 5- Race and Resurrection City 121
  • 6- Multiracial Efforts, Intra-Racial Gains 154
  • 7- The Limits of Coalition 186
  • 8- Making the 1970s 208
  • Epilogue- Poverty, Coalition, and Identity Politics 242
  • Notes 249
  • Bibliography 313
  • Acknowledgments 341
  • Index 345
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