The History of Mexican-Americans Explored Through Film
The hardships that Mexican-Americans have faced started well before Reies Lopez Tijierina and Corky Gonzalaz led the Chicano movement in the sixties, and well before the Coronado Bridge was built in San Diego. It started with the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hilago. The treaty signed in 1848 by the United States and Mexico established new boarders between the two countries. This treaty forever changed the lives of Mexicans then and still today. When the United States gained control of the land in the Southwest all the Mexicans that had been living there became citizens of the U.S. The land that had once been theirs, the land that they had grown up on the their great grandparents had grown up on was now being taken by the U.S. government. Felix Gutierrez, a fourth generation Californian, sums up the feelings of Mexican-Americans best when he said, "My great grandfather didn’t cross the boarder, the boarder crossed him." (interview with Jorge Quiroga)
Around the time that the Cold War started to heat up Reies Lopez Tijerina started to fight back for the land of Tierra Amarilla. It was once land that had once belonged to Amarlla, and had sold for 200 dollars and some horses, and Tijierina said it was time to take it back. The film Chicano! shows that with this one defining act Tijerina spearheaded the Chicano movement. The word Chicano which means "poorest of the poor" spread like wild fire throughout the Mexican-American community in the Southwest. Chicanos saw what Dr. Martin Luther King was doing for the African Americans and they realized that they were also victims of labor, education and even military discrimination.
Tijierina’s argument and desire for change had been based on the fact that he realized that the United States government had taken land away from Mexican farmers and now those farmers now lived as tenants on land that had once been theirs. Tijierina inspired another revolutionary, Corky Gonzalez. Corky was younger, smarter and a better organizer than his predecessor. He was able to reach out to the young people in the communities and spark their interest in the movement towards equality.
The film documents how Mexican workers in California formed a union. The National Farm Workers Union was led by Cesar Chevez and went on strike demanding better wages. Unfortunately for the workers better wages meant equal wages compared to Anglo workers. Chicano workers were making less then $3000 a year and with that sort of money it near impossible for a family to have their children educated. This meant that the children would also have to work and not get an education. This process just continued the cycle of the Chicanos not receiving fair treatment from the Anglo government. Corky organized the Chicano community and helped them understand their rights to vote and have a say in what happened in their lives.
Another of Corey’s issues was the fact that...