LOS FELIZ (CBSLA) — On March 1, 1968, students from Garfield High School in East L.A. walked out of their classrooms to demand equitable teaching conditions from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Fifty years later, students commemorated the historic demonstration with their counterparts who were there.
Members of a packed house in the auditorium of the Gene Autry Museum screamed “Chicana!”-“Power!” Thursday, in a call-and-response chant reminiscent of the march so many decades ago.
Students got the chance to explore The Autry’s “La Raza” exhibit, which showcased photographs and video of the event that triggered a series of walkouts at schools throughout the city.
“You see the students relating to what they see here, and that’s a wonderful thing,” said Luis Garza, co-curator of the exhibit. Garcia was present at the ’68 walkouts and his photographs of the march were on display Thursday.
Works from current students about contemporary activist movements were inspired by the walkouts and made possible through the nonprofit artworxLA.
“The arts are a tremendous vehicle to[…] amplify your voice,” artworxLA director Cynthia Campoy Brophy told CBS2 News.
The works also included poetry, like that of Vista High School senior Odessa Guzman. “Respect my existence, or expect my resistance,” she read from a poem that takes on the fight for wage equality.
“My mother works every day, and she works very hard,” said Guzman. “But I still feel like the money always comes short, compared to other people in her job place.”
Guzman’s classmate Alex Espinosa told CBS2 he’s shy, but that the exhibit might encourage him to speak out about issues important to him.
“Makes me want to try harder for the things that I want,” said Espinosa. Specifically, he wants to see an end to the use of racial slurs.
His simple hope, he said, was “that things change for the better.”
The Autry’s “La Raza” exhibit runs through Feb. 10, 2019.