Chicano! Documentary Series by PBS
Let me know if you want to do an extra credit assignment based on one of these films! - Ms. Cardona
In 1996, PBS aired the Hector Galan-produced, four-part series Chicano! History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement, detailing the major situations that inspired and cemented the Chicano movement and is now available to stream. Each segment deconstructs a specific Chicano event between 1965 and 1975 starting with the quest to find a proper homeland in the United States. Angered and disenfranchised, the Chicano movement would soon see the rise of figures like Caesar Chavez and the UFW (United Farm Workers of America) that put a face on the exploitation of Mexican labor, documented in the second episode of the series. Later installments in the series focus on the 1968 Los Angeles high school walkouts and the implementation of the Raza Unida Party.
EPISODE ONE: Quest for a Homeland
Episode 1: Quest for a Homeland
Examines the beginnings of the movement by profiling Reies Lopez Tijerina and the land grant movement in New Mexico in 1966 and 1967. It shows how Tijerina's fight to convince the federal government to honor the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) galvanized Mexicans and Mexican Americans across the Southwest. It then moves on to discuss Rodolfo (Corky) Gonzales and his founding of the Crusade for Justice in Denver in 1966. Focusing on the importance of his poem I am Joaquin, it highlights how Gonzales reached out to Chicano youth. This segment is useful for its discussion of the roots of Chicano nationalism through its affirmation of cultural identity grounded in Aztec myths such as that of Aztlan, the mythical Chicano homeland.
EPISODE TWO: Struggle in the Fields
Episode 2: The Struggle in the Fields
Chronicles the efforts of farm workers to form a national labor union. Under the leadership of nonviolence advocate César Chávez, farm workers launched a strike against California grape growers in 1965, demanding better working conditions and fair wages. In 1970, they undertook a national table grape boycott that eventually led to the first union contracts in farm labor history. An important milestone in the struggle was the passing of the California Labor Relations Act.
EPISODE THREE: Taking Back the Schools
Episode 3: Taking Back the Schools
Documents the Mexican-American struggle to reform an educational system that failed to properly educate Chicano students, causing more than 50 percent to drop out and leaving many others illiterate and unskilled. It focuses on the 1968 walkout by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles, which resulted in conspiracy indictments against 13 students and community leaders. This event was emblematic of a national movement for improved educational opportunities.
EPISODE FOUR: Fighting for Political Power
Episode 4: Fighting for Political Power
Focuses on the creation of a third political party, La Raza Unida (The United People). The film opens with a large exodus of Anglo citizens from Crystal City, Texas, after five Mexican-Americans were elected to political office in the town. The film also shows how a protest against a high school cheerleading tradition pitted the Mexican-American population against the town's Anglo-American power structure. La Raza Unida inspired a generation of political activists and pioneered voter registration strategies that led to the election of thousands of Chicanos to political office.