In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by: Blowout! By Mario T. The interviews with Sal Castro, transcribed and presented in his own voice, are also supplemented with periodic inserts, or voices, provided by other historical actors involved in these walkouts and other displays of political activism that poignantly convey a larger collective process. The initial moderate agenda emphasized at these conferences, first held in under the name Spanish Speaking Youth Leadership Conference, increasingly embraced a more radical and activist approach that clearly influenced the student walkouts.

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Sal Castro was praised as a tireless, inspiring leader and activist by university professors, doctors and a former California Supreme Court justice at his funeral Thursday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

But he simply wanted to be remembered as a teacher. Castro, a teacher at Lincoln High in , helped organize those protests. Garcia, who collaborated with Castro on "Blowout! He leaves a wife, two sons and two grandsons. He was arrested that day and charged with 30 counts of disturbing the peace and conspiracy to disturb the peace after the walkouts, which involved students from Lincoln, Garfield, Belmont, Wilson and Roosevelt high schools.

He spoke on behalf of our people and maintained our integrity," Gamboa said. She and others were inspired by his story and planned to have another walkout in , but they were met by school administrators and police officers and retreated to class.

Castro was still proud. I went to college and became a teacher. Collections from a donation box for the recently formed Sal Castro Foundation will be used toward reinstating the workshops. He was Castro died at his home in the Silver Lake district, seven months after he was found to have stage 4 thyroid cancer, said his wife, Charlotte Lerchenmuller. In March , Castro was a social studies teacher at Lincoln High School near downtown when he helped instigate the protests that became a seminal event in the development of the Chicano movement.

Students at five high schools — Belmont, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt and Garfield — abandoned their campuses in a dramatic bid to remedy overcrowded and run-down schools, soaring dropout rates, poorly trained teachers, and counselors who steered Latino students into auto shop instead of college-prep classes. The conditions were so poor, he told The Times 20 years later, it was "like American education forgot the Latino kid. Castro was among the 13 who were jailed but eventually exonerated.

Fired after the walkouts, he fought successfully to be reinstated to his teaching position but was transferred several times to schools that had largely non-Latino enrollments. Broad public recognition of his contributions to the struggle for education equality came decades after the protests, when his story was told in films, including "Walkout," the HBO movie directed by Edward James Olmos.

When he returned to Los Angeles for second grade, his teacher made him sit in a corner because he was the only student who could not speak English. Instead of accepting the stigma, "I started thinking, these teachers … should be able to understand me," he said in a interview with The Times. That year, he also earned a credential to teach secondary school and taught junior high in Pasadena before landing a position at Belmont High. He soon began pressing for change.

He urged Mexican American students to run for student government offices, causing a ruckus when he encouraged them to give campaign speeches in Spanish.

In , he founded the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference, a nonprofit organization that trained future leaders at annual workshops held until , when it lost its funding. Transferred to Lincoln High after the incident at Belmont, he worked with students and recent graduates to present a list of demands to the school board aimed at improving academic opportunities and fixing dilapidated classrooms.

Tensions came to a head on March 5, , after administrators at Wilson High abruptly canceled a student production of "Barefoot in the Park" that they said was too risque. Word of the action spread quickly, and soon Latino students were leaving classrooms across the district, joined by Castro and others outside the schools, including college students and members of the militant Brown Beret.

Castro was jailed for five days after the walkouts and lost his job, but he was rehired after weeks of protests by Eastside parents. Months after the protests, 40 teachers at Lincoln High asked to be transferred if the district allowed Castro to return. After a long period of "freeway therapy," when he was bounced around to different schools and made a substitute teacher, he landed back at Belmont, where he taught and counseled hundreds of students from until his retirement in Many of his students became educators, including several who are principals, Lerchenmuller said.

In , district officials honored the outspoken educator by dedicating a school to him, Salvador B. Although Castro continued to lament high dropout rates and other problems, he discouraged students who wanted to launch new walkouts, arguing that staying in school was more important.

Services will be announced. By Teresa Watanabe, L. Salvador B. Castro Middle School was named after him several years ago. Hours earlier, the "usually glib and gregarious" teacher and activist, as he describes himself, had been released from St.

Vincent Medical Center with a serious illness that made it difficult for him to speak. But Castro insisted on meeting with me to express his frustration with President Obama. At the height of the civil rights movement, Castro, then a young teacher at Lincoln High, walked out with his students to protest schools that set up Mexican Americans to fail. The walkouts, or "blowouts" as they came to be known, spread to five Eastside high schools, then throughout the Southwest.

Castro, now 78, believes the blowouts should be seen as the equivalent of black civil rights touchstones like the Selma march or the lunch-counter sit-ins. To him, they jump-started the whole Chicano rights movement.

Chavez National Monument, the first such site to honor a contemporary Mexican American. Castro had asked him to squeeze in a second ceremony to dedicate a plaque for the Eastside students at Hazard Park near County-USC Medical Center, where they had gathered during the blowouts.

If it took so long for the first Mexican American to receive that presidential recognition, what were the chances of a second commemoration? Obama has the California Latino vote in the bag; the Chavez dedication is a national play. By contrast, 48, students marched in the blowouts. After the walkouts, Castro was arrested and held for five days. He was slapped with several felony conspiracies, his teaching credential was threatened and he was jerked around by the L.

Unified school district. But eventually, he landed back in the classroom at Belmont High, where he continued to press for student rights until his retirement in Castro is keenly aware that the school district still struggles to educate kids from Spanish-speaking families. Latinos continue to lead the nation in high school drop-out rates and teen pregnancies, and bright students are tracked away from college prep courses.

Do you? He waved another letter he had written, taking Obama to task for an education speech arguing that children need a parent at home to turn off the TV and help with the homework. To Castro, the remarks ignored the economic reality for Latino parents, many of whom must work long hours away from their kids. President," Castro wrote. He also wore a "Yellow Dog Democrat" button, which I was told means he would vote for a yellow dog before a Republican.

Michelle Obama wrote back once declining his invitation. He has never heard from the president. Castro Middle School was dedicated on the Belmont campus. The walkouts produced a new generation of Latino professionals and politicians who are aware of the debt they owe Castro and the blowout students. Politicians like L. Villaraigosa said Monday he backed federal recognition for the memorial. Castro refused to have his name on the plaque.

This one is for the students, he said. Chicano activist and educator Sal Castro wows the crowd with his past -- and presence L. Author Mario T.

Garcia, who wrote "Blowout! Moderator Hector Tobar jokingly acknowledged that Castro showed up late just to get the warm greeting. But some young ones in the crowd would have been disappointed, a testament to his staying power as an icon of Chicano rights and youth leadership.

Expecting to hear that they were fans of the movie "Walkout" directed by Edward James Olmos and starring actors Efren Ramirez and Michael Pena, I was surprised as they started discussing his educational effect on Latinos.

He stood straight up, held up a movie poster of "Walkout" and said that when producers approached him about doing a movie on his life, he said someone good-looking had to play him. He was happy with the choice of Pena. Castro kept it light, even though much of his life involved serious events such as being jailed for fighting for improved educational rights.

Former L. Times Festival of books. Credit: Joshua Sandoval L. He was hailed as a hero. Times, June 4, Sal Castro went from classroom to jail cell. The Eastside social studies teacher was branded a dangerous agitator in the press — held responsible for inciting thousands of teenagers to march out of school.

The district attorney slapped a bunch of conspiracy charges on him. The Board of Education voted him out of his job. All that was 42 years ago. Castro Middle School. He still believes many L. The difference is that these days a lot of district administrators agree with him. Unified school board member. Castro Middle School, she points out, will serve a community where fewer than half the students complete high school.

Naming a school for Castro is a necessary jolt to our collective memory. In the late s Castro was teaching at Lincoln High, a school with an overwhelmingly Mexican American student body but few Mexican American teachers. Castro worked to encourage students at Eastside high schools to protest crowded classrooms and the tracking that funneled many bright minds away from college-prep courses. The students prepared a list of demands to present to the school board.

But events quickly spun out of their control. On March 5, , the day after officials canceled a school production of "Barefoot in the Park" as too risque, thousands of teenagers at five high schools walked out of classes.

Castro left his classroom and joined the students, who were later pummeled by riot police.


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