What the Chicano Moratorium Means to La Gente

What the Chicano Moratorium Means to La Gente

By John Sermeno. Posted July 2,2022.

One of the planted seeds in my involvement in the Chicano Movement was when my homie Tony Salazar, who was attending UCLA and the first homie ever to attend UCLA or any other  college, brought Corky Gonzalez from the Denver Crusade for Justice to the barrio Big Hazard on the corner of Murchison and Lancaster, in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, where I hung out every day back in those days. Tony introduced me to Corky who asked what I was doing? I told him “That this was our hood and that we control practically everything here.” Corky educated me by saying that “we did not own anything and had no power.” This stood in my head for a long time and eventually crystallized when the 1968 Chicano Students Walkout broke out in March, 1968. After that I committed myself for the rest of my life for Democracy, Self Determination, and Chicano Liberation.

Chicano Moratorium, Los Angeles Aug. 30, 1980. Photo courtesy of Unity Archives.

There were several Chicano Moratorium events prior to the August 29th 1970 Chicano Moratorium. These events helped build the momentum for 1970 Chicano Moratorium when over 35,000 to 40,000 people participated in the Moratorium. The Moratorium was a protest against U.S. Imperialism and the unjust war against the Vietnamese people and the high death rate of Chicano causalities (there) while we suffered from discrimination, racism, high unemployment, limited educational opportunities, being murdered and brutality by police even though our Gente (people) had served, sacrificed, and patriotically defended the U.S. This treatment has continued since the Annexation of the northern part of Mexico and the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty which was signed on Feb 2, 1848 where we were forced by violence to go through the process of assimilation with our Land, Culture, History, Language, Rights and Resources gradually eliminated.    

I still remember this beautiful day, especially early that morning, seeing Chicanos and Chicanas gathering together from all over the Southwest and beyond. I remember seeing all the barrios in Los Angeles, and outside of LA participating and gathering very early in the morning. Immediately we all knew this was a historical day. Our unity as a people was solid and strong. It brought tears to my eyes and we all embraced each other understanding that we had reached a new high with our presence and voice against Colonialism, U.S Imperialism and the Annexation of our land.  

The Colonial Power Structure refused to allow us to have a successful Moratorium and demonstrate our powerful show of Unity. They felt threatened by our desire for Democracy, Self Determination and Chicano Liberation. The LAPD and LA County Sheriffs attacked the Moratorium by surprise and used a phony excuse that they could not isolate the situation to which they had responded. That was a total lie. They proceeded to attack the rally, eventually murdering Ruben Salazar, a reporter from the LA Times newspaper, Angel Diaz and Lynn Ward from the Brown Berets El Monte Chapter. They arrested hundreds of people with three of us from the Hazard Projects: myself, Willie Bravo, and Carlos Gomez (Big Pony). While we were in the LA County Jail, we were kept separated and isolated from the rest of the inmates. A Community Defense committee was established by Chicano activists, supporters and the MECHA student chapters throughout Southern California to raise finances to get people out of jail. The majority of people arrested were eventually acquitted.  

Commemorative button provided by John Sermeno.

The Chicano Moratorium is a very historic day for the Chicano/Mexicano/Indigenous people. This coming Agosto 29th, 2022 will be the 52nd Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium. At this crucial time, we are facing the possibilities of a right-wing, neo-fascist take over politically led by Donald Trump and the white supremacist, Nazi, and neo-fascist Republican Party, which has been preparing for this opportunity for some time now. Especially since Barack Obama was elected President, they have begun to intensify their efforts to take over the U.S and rule it with fascism.

Therefore, it extremely important that the three groups which are preparing for the 52nd Chicano Moratorium will hopefully consider making a serious effort towards having one Moratorium. There were a lot of differences and heated confrontations at the original Moratorium prior to the 1970 Chicano Moratorium demonstration. Nevertheless, we all able to realize that putting our Gente first was in our common interest and having a large and successful Moratorium was our primary goal. Hopefully, the groups will provide leadership, connect with each other, and work out a plan and process to accomplish this important endeavor with our common interest uniting our Gente and not putting their group or organizations ahead of the Chicano, Mexicano, and Indigenous people. The political conditions cry out for our unity and for us to be organized and prepared for the continued struggle against the right-wing fascists and multi-national corporations.

10th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, Aug. 30, 1990. Photo from Unity Archive.

A unified march would send a strong message of unity and solidarity with our Gente in Arizona and Texas and wherever we exist. Especially our Gente in Uvalde, Texas who are experiencing tremendous horror and suffering from right-wing supremacy. Additionally, being united would be an excellent example for our Gente, barrios, and allies to follow. Our presence organizing together would be felt by all those who suffer from U.S. imperialism and colonialism.   

The current mass killings in Uvalde, Texas ads more fuel and fire to the importance of our unity and the understanding that we have to be politically conscious. We need to be organized and prepared for the fight that is sure to come. It’s obvious that the right-wing fascists represented by the Republican Party are ruthless and will stop at nothing to gain complete political power, even killing our children. We need to wake up and quit living in an illusion of American exceptionalism. The right time is now; we need immediate unity and action.   

Support our Gente in Uvalde, Texas (Aztlan).

Long Live the Chicano/Mexicano/Central American/Indigenous People

Onward to the 52ND Chicano Moratorium.

Stop the Mass Killings of our Gente.  

Our Unity is Mandatory  


Author’s bio: John Sermeno is a former member of the August 29th, Movement M.L (ATM) and The League of Revolutionary Struggle M-L (LRS). 

3 thoughts on “What the Chicano Moratorium Means to La Gente”

  1. This needs to be published Brother ! Powerful! Chicano Mass Movement history. Building a Collectivist Society and Chicano Communities across the land.
    Can I share this with a Chicano Studies profi ?

    1. Armando, we would be honored if you shared Brother Sermeno’s article. all articles from UnityNews 2022 are free to share. thanks for reading. open to any ideas you might have for articles and for submissions.

  2. Unfortunately nearly all of these Chicanos are Democrat Party apologists and defenders of the two party establishment. They are rabid reactionaries in lock step with the party lines while using romanticism of the indigenous history and the Chicano Movement to mask their liberalism.
    It’s easy to see this in this essay.

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