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UTSA hosts National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference

UTSA hosts National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference

An image from UTSA Libraries Special Collections shows members of a student group protesting in the 1970s.

Nov. 21, 2019 — The UTSA Libraries and Policy Studies Center along with community partners, including Academia America and Our Lady of the Lake University, are sponsoring and hosting the National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference in San Antonio this week.

The three-day event examines the history and lasting impact of Chicano student walkouts in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The conference brings together the striking activists, faculty, researchers, community leaders and students to reflect, analyze and assess the impact that the protests had on the improvement of educational and economic opportunities for Mexican Americans.

Starting in 1968, thousands of Chicano students in South Texas and across the Southwest United States walked out of their high schools, challenging structural inequities that affected their education. In San Antonio, students at Edgewood High School and Lanier High School took to the streets to demand equitable funding, elimination of racist policies and curricula, and improvement of dilapidated facilities. These young activists seeded the civil rights movement for Mexican Americans in San Antonio, fighting for equity along with social and educational change.

Learn more about the National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference.

 “The conference commemorates the 50th anniversary of the walkouts, many of which happened here on the Near West Side of San Antonio, close to the UTSA Downtown Campus,” said Roger Enriquez, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the UTSA Policy Studies Center. “It aligns perfectly with mission of our center to be a resource to those that share our goal of enhancing the quality of life of historically underserved populations. Even though these events happened 50 years ago, they still are very important today. Many point to the walkouts as seminal events in the rise of the Chicano movement.”

UTSA is hosting the first and third days of the National Chicano Student Walkouts Conference in the Durango Building on the Downtown Campus. The event features a variety of participants representing UTSA. On Thursday at Our Lady of the Lake University, Carmen Tafolla, UTSA professor emeritus and former poet laureate of Texas, will speak on the history of education for Mexican Americans in Texas.

On Friday at 9:30 a.m. in the Durango Building professor of demography Rogelio Saenz will speak about demographic changes over the past 50 years. On Friday at 3:00 p.m. Lilliana Saldaña, associate professor of bicultural-bilingual studies and director of Mexican American studies, will participate in a panel discussing the politics of education.

UTSA Libraries staff will assist in collecting oral histories from walkout participants, adding to the fast-growing collection of materials focused on Mexican American civil rights and activism.

“The Chicano walkouts are an integral piece of our shared history here in South Texas—a history that USTA Libraries is proud to help record for generations to come,” said Dean Hendrix, dean of libraries at UTSA.

The conference will also feature multiple cultural events, including a student art exhibit, featuring the works of K-12 students from around Texas that honor the students who protested educational inequities. The exhibit is located in the La Villita Room of the Durango Building on the Downtown Campus.

Matthew Boerger

Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.