I walked through the corridors headed towards the main entrance, encountering the paintings of the community' muralists. Each of the devoted artist's work demonstrated an intricate reflection about our beautiful history and the root causes of the oppression we had endured. Memories of our collective past when we had been imprisoned by the long term negative consequences of colonialism stood in juxtaposition with sketches of a time when we had decided to be masters of our own destinies; a time when we feared no men, with a burning desire to destroy the inferiority complex that held us at bay.
When I made the decision to become involved, the value of human rights I had learned from my mother and father, the knowledge of social justice I had internalized in a Catholic Jesuit high school and my time in the AFL-CIO entrenched with packing house rowdies were crystalized into meaning in this life.
Each of the photographs unveiled memories about the many beautiful committed compañeros and compañeras I had the privilege of meeting and struggling with. Each photograph reminded me of the passion for justice that I had developed about humanity and its many misgivings. The pictures of group gatherings reminded me of the brown brothers and sisters we lost in the movement, young people who never kowtowed to the master, even when violence was present.
The images of the spiritual marches, some with the images of La Virgen de Guadalupe and others with heroic figures of Emiliano Zapata and Che Guevara reminded me of the true meaning of our struggle. The poetic verses symbolized the sacrifice many organizers and activists made to bring to life the cultural significance of El Movimiento. The pictures of the Brown and Black Berets reminded me of the courage it took to keep moving forward, even at the expense of many losing their lives.
Those who participated in the Chicano Movement believed that we were the generation destined to change the world. We dreamed of a utopian existence, a new world order; the dreams served as a remembrance of the nightmares full of social injustice that Chicanos/as had endured as we walked on this earth.
We believed in something then, the idea that we could achieve self-determination. We knew that there would always be opposing forces that we had to tangle with in a variety of different forms such as white supremacy, economic exploitation, militarism and educational hegemony.
It was a time when we could walk into any situation with the pride and dignity that we deserve as human beings, without fear of reprisal from those who ruled, with absolutely no shame, knowing that we had made a conscious decision to resist. We had no remorse about knocking down signs that read "No Mexicans or dogs allowed."
There can be no denial as nostalgic memorabilia stares you in the face causing you to catapult even further backwards to reflect upon those times when passion was present. The yearning for social justice was rekindled. I now realize activism with a purpose creates results. There can be don denial as nostalgic memorabilia stares you in the face. You are catapulted backwards to reflect upon those times when passion was present. The closed doors of institutional depravity were forced open by our own blood, sweat and tears. It reminded me that until justice is served, the movement will continue because we created it; we created our own history of us, for us and by us. We own that time in history, a time when we decided to confront the oppressor.
The systematic politics of exclusion was dismantled once; but can return if we do not continue the politics of mass protest and mobilization. The systematic development of ideological repression is always present. The intelligentsia whose role was to be the vanguard of the movement needs a resurge of energy. Whether those new leaders emanate from an organic approach within the community based on life experiences ready to critique society or are created within universities ready to criticize our capitalistic political economy, the failure to continue this movement that shook the foundations of society is a step backwards.
True passion for social justice never dies until its thirst has been quenched. As long as there is oppression, movements don't die. They change character and form; the human love that drives us to act upon the world gets only stronger. The batons we carried with vim and vigor need to be passed onto the next generation.
¡Que Viva La Revolucion y El Movimiento Chicano!
Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist. ©2-10-2015 Ramón Del Castillo.
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