The Story Behind Chicano Homeland by Louis R. Negrete #nonfiction

The Story Behind Chicano Homeland

By Louis R. Negrete

I was born in Los Angeles in a house within sight of the Watts Towers in an area my family knew as La Colonia. The neighborhood consisted mostly of low to medium income families that were friendly with each other. Growing up I heard stories about the mistreatment of Mexican families, especially immigrants. Over time I developed an awareness that we lived in racist times.  I wrote the book based on my life experience of wide spread anti-Mexican American racism in my neighborhood which I later realized was nationwide. 
Before 1848, Los Angeles was part of Mexico. Most recently the people used the term Chicano to identify themselves as the first residents of Los Angeles and the Southwest. We were a proud people living in this country. We were bilingual speaking both English and Spanish. We maintained our culture. In the 1960’s to 1980’s community activists in different groups created the Chicano movement as community resistance to injustice slowly increased.
As I grew up my uncles and cousins told me to avoid contact with the police because they were anti-Mexican. I then saw my uncle chased down the street by sailors and police during what the media called the Pachuco Riots, a dangerous time downtown for young Mexican Americans. My sense of anti-Mexican racism became more realistic when I was in high school and got stopped by the police near my home. I was unable to answer their questions because I was having an asthma attack. The police got angry and beat me on my body, not my face, then they took me to the police station and phoned my parents to pick me up. Afterwards, the police kept driving slowly by my house. It seemed they were looking for me, so my parents rented a room for me in El Sereno where I stayed for a few weeks. This too made me aware of racial discrimination. As an adult, I was fully aware of anti-Mexican racism in society but in my high school and college education, I never learned about our contributions to society nor of racial discrimination against us. Ironically, I was encouraged by white Anglo men to pursue my education and career opportunities.   
Racism became a background for my growing up. I became aware that people were resisting injustice on the streets and places where they worked. By the time I became a university professor, I was fully aware that separate protest events formed the beginnings of a Chicano community movement for justice. Eventually protest events, even if separate, formed a united movement of thousands of men and women activists, many unknown, in different groups. The evolving movement included protest events like the high school student walkouts for better schools, formation of the farmworker’s union, opposition to the war in Vietnam, demands for return of Southwest land grants taken from Mexico after the U.S. war with Mexico, organization of the militant Brown Berets, and the Chicano Moratorium Committee against the war in Vietnam and creation of the nation’s first academic university Department of Chicano Studies. Other activist groups were also part of the growing movement.
The work of the Chicano movement was a success. Since then, Mexican Americans can be found employed in government, business, schools. nonprofit agencies, law enforcement, all across the range of employment and careers, and as elected officials. But resistance to continuing poverty, homelessness, and racism must compel younger generations of minorities to keep the movement alive. I believe that minorities in America must fight back against racism in local and national politics. Anti-immigrant government policies popular today pose a major threat to democracy. The struggles of the Chicano people must continue as a united community opposition against racism. Younger generations of Americans must know this part of our national history.  

Dr. Louis R. Negrete was born and raised in Los Angeles. During his distinguished career, Dr. Negrete served as Director of Project Head Start for the Council of Mexican American Affairs and was also a founding member of the new Chicano Studies Department at the California State University in Los Angeles. He served as professor of Chicano Studies for some 35 years at Cal State LA. CHICANO HOMELAND is his first book. Dr. Negrete makes his home in Los Angeles, California. 
Web site for book at

Los Angeles author-educator Dr. Louis R. Negrete lived and now tells the compelling, dynamic story of the movement for the rights of Mexican-Americans in the USA, particularly those In California.  In his riveting, powerfully written historical book, CHICANO HOMELAND,  retired college professor Dr. Negrete vividly describes the issues that sparked the Chicano civil rights movement, that saw unbridled police brutality, institutional poverty (that still even exists today, he says), demands for better schools, the  anti-Vietnam war protests and the support for undocumented immigrants.
Mr. Negrete’s CHICANO HOMELAND captures in its historical pages the early Mexican settlement in Los Angeles to the 1950s Zoot Suit riots in L.A. to where Chicanos stand today in the California culture. He gives us a colorful, vivid history of a people that every Hispanic should read, especially as he says, “Chicanos and Chicanas, so they can know where they came from, how they got here and be inspired to chart a course to a genuine, lasting political power for what is now the largest ethnic minority in the United States.”
Commented author Dr. Louis R. Negrete on his book, “I believe that Americans must fight back against racism and national politics. The Chicano movement was a success but resistance to racism must continue, especially with the anti-immigrant policies popular today. I wrote the book based upon my experience growing up in Los Angeles, aware of persistent demands for justice and an end to racism. Younger Mexican-Americans and other minorities should know this part of United States history.”




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