Written by: Adina Vega

Edited by: Gabrielle S. Vasquez Bates

A cartoon featured La Cucaracha, a Chicano rights newspaper featured in the Archives. 

March 31st commemorates one of the most influential Mexican-American labor leaders and civil rights activists, César Chávez. Along with Mexican-American labor leader Dolores Huerta, he co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, later called the United Farm Workers labor union. Together they brought better conditions for Chicano migrant farm workers, igniting a nationwide discussion on worker’s rights, immigration, and race. Their combined work impacted the agriculture industry, especially the treatment of those who put food on the table. The fight against racial inequalities and labor rights continued into the 70s and 80s in towns like Pueblo, CO, a blue-collar, industrial, and agricultural community. It became a popular location for activists who held rallies, marches, and labor strikes to uphold better working conditions. 

With so much information to preserve, The Colorado Chicano Movement Archives was created in 2009 and is part of the Southern Colorado Ethnic Heritage. This collection includes 23 individual collections from Chicano activists and organizations, including audiovisual recordings, oral histories, and manuscripts. The archives emphasize the Movement’s fight for equality and worker’s rights. 

Chicano farm workers fight for better labor practices and workers’ rights.  

The term Chicano describes someone with Mexican parents or grandparents born in the United States. The success of the African American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s inspired the Chicano Movement during a tumultuous time in American history when people were fighting for social, legal, and political changes. It was a time of revolution and began with the fight for four issues: land ownership, worker’s rights, and educational and political equality.  Rioters and activists came together to increase cultural representation and combat institutional racism. Student groups like United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) staged rallies. They boycotted farms with unfair labor practices and fought for schools to include Chicano studies in their curriculum. 

Chicano activists march to bring awareness to worker’s rights and race inequalities. 

One of the archives’ most comprehensive collections, La Cucaracha newspaper, was published by Deborah and David Espinosa, David Martinez, and Pablo Mora in 1976. The founders were students and activists at the University of Colorado Boulder during the movement in the early 1970s. Still in publication today, it provides political commentary on issues like police brutality, labor strikes, local and national news, the effects of discrimination, and health care.

Crucial progress has been made, but the fight for Chicano rights is ongoing. The Movement has significantly and culturally impacted the way we identify Chicano populations. Lasting impacts have been made on the government, school systems, and workforce. Chicano Studies majors are offered at universities, Spanish is taught in grade schools, and labor laws have improved. The rich and powerful history of the Chicano race exists in the Archives and is added to it every day as new advances occur. The Archives serve as an example of what was and what still needs to be. 

1 Comment

Laura Dowell · 14 Mar 2023 at 3:50 PM

This was a great read. I learned a lot. Thanks for writing this!

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