Los Angeles, CA – On March 8, Garfield High School held the 55th anniversary of the East Los Angeles Walkouts. In early March 1968, thousands of students walked out of East-area high schools to demand equality in public education and protested inferior conditions. This was the first urban youth-led protest of the growing Chicano movement and received national attention.
Garfield High School (GHS) teacher Juan Garcia and students organized the assembly attended by over 1200 students. Garcia spoke to the assembly, “It is important to know our rich history of struggles and contributions to this land.”
Newly-elected LA Unified School District (LAUSD) Boardmember Dr. Rocio Rivas gave opening remarks and spoke of the significant worldwide events of 1968; such as anti-war protests, Mexico City student protests, and the ELA Walkouts.
Aimee Rico, a student, introduced the panel of speakers who were all former students and Brown Berets. Among them were 1968 walkout students Mita Cuarón, Yolie Ríos, Rachel Ochoa and Cassandra Alarcón, and Brown Berets Ralph Ramirez, David Sanchez and Carlos Montes. Each gave a personal account of school conditions and their roles in the historic walkouts.
Ramirez, Sanchez, and Montes came to be known as part of the ELA 13; arrested for conspiracy to disrupt the school, charges later dropped as unconstitutional.
This was an especially important event for Carlos Montes since he graduated from GHS. Montes spoke of Centro CSO’s fight against charter school threats, the privatization of public education like Ednovate Esperanza charter high school. He invited all to attend the UTLA/SEIU99 rally scheduled for March 15. Among the rally demands is fully-funded schools.