[Freedom archives news] More Than Just Symbols: The Chican@ Resistance Movement

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Fri Dec 1 10:16:53 EST 2017


https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/01/more-than-just-symbols-the-chicano-resistance-movement/ 



  More Than Just Symbols: The Chican@ Resistance Movement

December 1, 2017

by Ron Jacobs <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/ron-jacobs/>

The moment I first became aware of the Chicano movement for land and 
liberation was upon hearing about Reies Lopez Tijerina’s takeover of a 
courthouse in rural New Mexico. This was in 1969 during a conversation 
with a Chicano GI. Soon afterwards, the movement led by Cesar Chavez to 
unionize the farmworkers was introduced to the US military in the form 
of a boycott of grapes from the California fields being organized. What 
this meant for military men and women was that boycott organizers worked 
to get the military to stop buying grapes in the military mess halls and 
selling them in their commissaries. My recollection is that the military 
refused to accept those terms but that the organizing around the boycott 
convinced many military members to boycott the product on their own. 
This scenario played out in a similar manner when lettuce was also added 
to the boycott list. Anyhow, back to my GI friend. It was this same GI 
who introduced me to the Chicano@ antiwar movement, specifically the 
1969 August moratorium protests—an event that saw brutal police 
repression and the murder of a popular left-leaning Los Angeles 
television reporter named Ruben Salazar. (Hunter S. Thompson and his 
attorney, Oscar Zeta both wrote about these protests in the months that 
followed.)

These particular protests and personalities were but the tip of an 
iceberg when it came to the Chicano movement for land and rights. This 
fact becomes quite clear in the newly-released documentary film titled 
/Symbols of Resistance: A Tribute to the Martyrs of the Chican@ Movement 
<https://freedomarchives.org/projects/symbols-of-resistance-outreach/>./ 
Produced via the San Francisco, CA.-based Freedom Archives, the film 
uses a conference organized by young and old activists to commemorate 
the 40th anniversary of the still unsolved murders of six Chicano 
activists who became known as Los Seis de Boulder (Boulder Six) that was 
held in Boulder, CO. in 2014 as its springboard. Besides honoring the 
fallen fighters for which the conference was held, the film provides the 
viewer with a concise history of the Chicano movement in the United 
States. It combines speakers, poets, and musicians filmed at the 
conference in 2014 with interviews of some of the principles. Then there 
is the clincher: a wealth of historical imagery from various personal, 
public and other archives. It is this imagery that gives this important 
film substance. Indeed, it brings to life the stories of men and women 
who made up Los Seis de Boulder (six young people killed in a series of 
bombings), of Ricardo Falcon who was murdered by a right-wing racist 
from George Wallace’s white supremacist anti-immigrant American 
Independence Party, and the struggles of the foot soldiers in this 
movement across the US west.

In the commentary that accompanies the stories from the past, the viewer 
is reminded of today’s battle around Latin American immigrants and 
Chicano citizens; the vicious hatred of anti-immigrant/anti-Latino 
groups and the self-serving politicians who cater to that hate. They are 
also reminded of the broader history of the American West, beginning 
with its roots as indigenous land and then land claimed by the Spanish 
crown before Washington took it over. One interviewee reminds the 
viewer, that given this history it is the US border that is illegal, not 
the Mexican one. Another important aspect of this history is the 
political connection that developed between the more militant elements 
of the Chicano movement and the American Indian Movement, especially 
during the period of the 1973 Wounded Knee standoff between the US 
government and Native Americans.

This film is many things. It is a tribute to a time and a movement. It 
is a history of a people. It is a useful springboard for a discussion 
that remains as relevant today as the period it reflects upon and 
portrays. It is a memorial to those who fought and died in the name of 
liberation and justice. Perhaps most importantly, it is a reminder that 
struggles for justice demand determination and commitment, and sometimes 
even lives.

/*Ron Jacobs *is the author of//Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture 
in the Seventies 
<http://store.counterpunch.org/product/day-dream-sunset/> published by 
CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: 
Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: 
ronj1955 at gmail.com <mailto:ronj1955 at gmail.com>./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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