Chicano Students Walk Out for Racial Equality in Kingsville, Texas 1969

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Timing
Time Period:  
April 14
1969
to
April 24
1969
Location and Goals
Country: 
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
Kingsville, Texas
Goals: 
Bilingual and bicultural education programs, the right to speak spanish at school without harassment, more Mexican-American books in the school library, more Mexican American teachers, and a ban on teachers preaching their own political views in the classroom.
 

During the Civil Rights Movement, Mexican-Americans struggled for equal
rights all across the Southwest in America. In Texas, campaigns for
racial equality were led primarily by organizations like La Raza (the
Resistance), MAYO (Mexican-American Youth Organization), PASSO
(Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations), and the Brown
Berets. These organizations struggled for equal rights and privileges
for Mexican-Americans in all facets of society.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, young MAYO activists, as a part of
the Chicano Movement, enacted numerous school walk-outs for better, more
racially inclusive education policies. On 28 February 1969, Chicano
students at Kingsville, Texas’ A&I University staged a walk-out for
improved conditions in the Mexican-American parts of town. Twenty
students participated, demanding “development of a park at The Plaza for
public use, paved streets in the Mexican American barrios and
maintenance of a drainage ditch on the city’s northside.” Although these
demands were not even considered by public officials, students at
Kingsville’s Gillett Junior High School took up the strike in April of
the same year with a new list of demands. They wanted bilingual and
bicultural education programs, the right to speak Spanish at school
without harassment, more Mexican-American books in the school library,
more Mexican American teachers, and a ban on teachers preaching their
own political views in the classroom.

A&I students provided Gillett Junior High School students with the
research they needed to present their case as viable, and helped to
organize the junior high school students. First, the students presented
their case to school officials. When this did not garner the results
they sought, they began organizing a walk-out. Seventy-five organizers
from MAYO and A&I organized 200 students in preparation for a
walk-out.

On 14 April 1969, about 75 students gathered across the street from
Gillett Junior High School and boycotted class. On the second day,
between 70 and 80 students convened at a hamburger stand near school and
marched to the school district’s administrative offices, where they
picketed. They shouted phrases like “Viva la Raza!” and “Viva MAYO!” and
carried signs with statements such as “We Dare to Care about Education”
in both English and Spanish. On the third day, between 50 and 60
protesters stood across the street from the school and shouted to
students to cross the street and join them during passing period. Around
12 students did so. School administrators threatened all protesting
students with suspension. Additionally, twelve Latina women gathered and
stood silently outside of the school that day to demonstrate their
dissent.

MAYO and A&I organizers then planned a combined walk-out with local
schools. They began at Gillett Junior High School and planned to march
to Memorial Junior High School. As they walked, they grew in number,
reaching 110 marchers, comprising 56 minors and 54 legal adults, before
police intervened. Sixteen policemen took every marcher into custody on
charges of disrupting the peace and unlawful assembly.

By 5:00 p.m., almost all of the students had been released either to
parents or “to their own person,” but several students were kept
overnight in the jail. Four hundred supporters held silent vigil outside
of the jail that night for the students being held overnight. The
minors were set to be released without bond, but several of the students
who were over 17 years old payed $50 bail. This campaign in Kingsville,
Texas ended then, with the Gillett Junior High principal stating that
things were “back to normal,” solidifying the failure of the campaign.

However, MAYO and other Chicano organizations carried out several other
walk-outs through the end of 1969 and the early 1970s, with varying
degrees of success. Walk-outs began on 22 April 1969 in the South Texas
city of Edcouch-Elsa, and later in Crystal City
(http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/chicano-students-strike-equalit...).
The walk-outs in Kingsville influenced later walk-outs in neighboring
Robstown, Texas, where students walked out in protests of staff and
curriculum insufficiencies very similar to those in Kingsville.
Additionally, on September 16, 1970, Kingsville A&I students joined
the National Chicano Walkout, marching from their Student Union to the
Kleberg County Courthouse.

Research Notes
Influences: 

MAYO and other Chicano organizations carried out several other walk-outs through the end of 1969 and the early 1970s, with varying degrees of success. Walk-outs began on Aprill 22, 1969 in the South Texas city of Edcouch-Elsa, and later in Crystal City (http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/chicano-students-strike-equalit...). The walk-outs in Kingsville influenced later walk-outs in neighboring Robstown, Texas, where students walked out in protests of staff and curriculum insufficiencies very similar to those in Kingsville. Additionally, on September 16, 1970, Kingsville A&I students joined the National Chicano Walkout, marching from their Student Union to the Kleberg County Courthouse.

Sources: 
Acosta, Teresa P. 2010. “POLITICAL ASSOCIATION OF SPANISH-SPEAKING ORGANIZATIONS.” Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 9, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150509185842/https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/vep01).

Perez, Nicole D. 2011. “The Kingsville Walk Out — Texas A&I And The Chicano Movement.” Alice Echo-News Journal. Retrieved May 9, 2015 (http://www.alicetx.com/news/article_5d64622e-3196-583b-9947-f2a3d0422e49.html).

South Texas Rabble Rousers. 2014. “1969: Student Walkouts At Texas A&I University and Robstown High School.” South Texas Rabble Rousers History Project. Retrieved May 9, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150509185618/https://southtexasrabblerousers.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/1969-student-walkouts-at-texas-ai-and-robstown-high-school/).

Pollack, Andrew. n.d. “The Struggle For Chicano Liberation.” The Struggle for Chicano Liberation. Retrieved May 9, 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150509190203/https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/document/swp-us/chicanlib2.htm).

Anon. 1969. “75 Students Strike At Kingsville High School.” Corpus Christi Caller Times, April 14, pp. 1–1.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Beatriz Grace Baker 08/02/2015