Tuesday, July 5

Before Texas shooting, Mexican Americans fought school discrimination

UVALDE, Texas —Students across the United States walked out of classes Thursday to protest gun violence and show support for the students and teachers killed in Uvalde building on a long but little-known history of walkouts and activism in the small Texas towns’ schools.

Robb Elementary School is now the site of the second most deadly school shooting in US history. Five decades earlier, Uvalde schools were the site of one of the longest school walkouts in Texas history, prompted by discrimination against Mexican American students.

As parents press law enforcement agencies for accountability following the shooting, Uvalde residents and past civil rights leaders remembered how they questioned authority to improve education for Mexican Americans.

While Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court case officially outlawed school segregation in 1954, families and students across the country still had to fight to receive equal treatment in their own schools even decades after the ruling.

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In the 1960s and 1970s, Mexican American families’ battles for equal treatment coalesced with the growing Chicano nationalism movement and spurred widespread student walkouts across Texas, California and the country.

“Some estimates place the number of walkouts in that period at 39, but Uvalde’s walkout is going to go down in history as the longest walkout on record,” said Alfredo Santos, who joined a 1970 walkout at Uvalde High School to protest discrimination against Hispanic students and the dismissal of a Hispanic teacher. “Most walkouts were one day or one hour. Uvalde’s walkout was six weeks.”

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Josue “George” Garza started teaching fifth grade at Robb Elementary School in 1965.

“It was a segregated school, 99% of the students were Mexican American,” Garza said.

School administrators and most teachers in the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District were white, or Anglo as many Texans say.


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