The Chicano Movement
What sort of activities were undertaken by activists in the Chicano Movement to increase rights and improve quality of life?
The Mexicans' Destiny
The Chicano Movement was a social movement that began in 1968. The term Chicano was originally used as a derogatory label for the sons and daughters of Mexican immigrants. The Chicano Movement began in California and extended to South Omaha by the early 1970s. South Omaha consisted of many Mexicans and Mexican- Americans. Through the Chicano Movement, Mexicans sought to obtain equality in political rights (including voting), quality employment, and a good education. Mexicans created their community to embrace identity and to show pride in their culture and background.
2 minute video features personal interviews in 2013 with Salvador Hernandez, Juan Ramon Hernandez, director of the Chicano Awareness Center from 1985-92, and a telephone interview with Paul Gutierrez.
The Chicano Power Patch symbolizes breaking the chains of discrimination. This symbol was popular in the Chicano Movement in Southern California. The patches were sold for fundraising efforts to help farm workers who were on strike (huelga), protesting for better living and working conditions.
Directors of the Center
Pat McKee-Velasquez was the director of the Chicano Awareness Center in 1988. He later moved from Omaha to a different community in San Diego, California. McKee-Velasquez is a valuable example of community leadership. He was there for a short period of time but he maintained the center's mission to provide education, cultural tradition, and other community support. In 2013, Catalina Quezada is the director of the Latino Center of the Midlands. She helps her community succeed. Some of the services that the Latino Center of the Midlands offers the community include General Educational Development (GED), Literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL), and Computer Literacy.
Then and Now
The Latino Center of the Midlands is located off 24th Street. The location hasn't changed since it first opened in 1971. Originally known as the Chicano Awareness Center, the name was changed in the early 1990s because more immigrants came from different Spanish speaking countries. Abelardo Hernandez, Alberto Rodriguez, and Jose Ramirez were the founders of the Chicano Awareness Center in the early 1970s. Even though the Chicano Awareness Center has changed it’s name to include the larger Latino community, the purpose has remained the same, to teach Spanish and English in the community.
The Movimiento was a social movement that occurred from the 1960s through the 1970s. It was founded by Mexican Americans who identified themselves as Chicano. It was a national movement, mainly in the Southwest and Midwest. In South Omaha, people also believe in the Movimiento. Mexican Immigrants were concerned about better schools and neighborhoods.
South Omaha was home to Mexican Immigrants who came from different parts looking for jobs and a way to support their families. Unfortunately, the immigrants had to face many problems. One problem faced by Mexican Americans in South Omaha was poverty and lack of jobs. By the 1970s, many employers or packing plants were moving and more laws were implemented because the city of Omaha was growing. Cheaper labor caused unemployment and environmental laws were strict in Omaha. The remaining jobs paid very low wages.
Another complaint or challenge: schools were not very good in South Omaha. People wanted kids to stay at school without being punished or criticized and placed in non-academic programs. Many of the kids were kicked out of schools or dropped out because they did not have support from teachers. As a consequence of this, many kids did not go to college and most of the kids ended up working in the packing industry to help their families financially.
2013 MIHV Project
"The Chicano Movement was an important event for Hispanic Americans. Among the many things I have learned is that the Chicanos fought for what they believed in, education and good work conditions."
- Pamela V.-H.
"I learned about the Chicano Movement how the Mexican/Americans fought for their civil rights. Young people were fighting for a better education. Students that did not go to college were drafted to fight for a country that did not treat them as American citizens."
- Griselda A.
Douglas County Historical Society.
Chicano Awareness Center (Latino Center of the Midlands)
Rudy Smith, California Calls Chicago Leader. Omaha World-Herald, November 25, 1988
Sibyl Myers, After Eight Years, Chicano Awareness Center Is Building, Omaha World-Herald, and October, 1978.
Pamela Valera Haros and Griselda Aragon, Omaha World-Herald,
Chicano Awareness Center, Omaha.
Salvador Hernandez. July 15, 2013
Juan Ramon Hernandez. July 17, 2013
Paul Gutierrez. July 16, 2013
Research compiled by: Griselda A. and Pamela V.