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"¡Mi Raza Primero!" (My People First!)

Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966-1978

Ernesto Chávez

Publication Year: 2002

¡Mi Raza Primero! is the first book to examine the Chicano movement's development in one locale—in this case Los Angeles, home of the largest population of people of Mexican descent outside of Mexico City. Ernesto Chávez focuses on four organizations that constituted the heart of the movement: The Brown Berets, the Chicano Moratorium Committee, La Raza Unida Party, and the Centro de Acción Social Autónomo, commonly known as CASA. Chávez examines and chronicles the ideas and tactics of the insurgency's leaders and their followers who, while differing in their goals and tactics, nonetheless came together as Chicanos and reformers.

Deftly combining personal recollection and interviews of movement participants with an array of archival, newspaper, and secondary sources, Chávez provides an absorbing account of the events that constituted the Los Angeles-based Chicano movement. At the same time he offers insights into the emergence and the fate of the movement elsewhere. He presents a critical analysis of the concept of Chicano nationalism, an idea shared by all leaders of the insurgency, and places it within a larger global and comparative framework. Examining such variables as gender, class, age, and power relationships, this book offers a sophisticated consideration of how ethnic nationalism and identity functioned in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.

Published by: University of California Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xviii

The paradox of writing a book is that although it is a solitary experience, the author relies on the help of so many to produce it. The following is my attempt to thank those who made this study possible. Though I depended on the help of so many, in the end I accept full responsibility for any of this study’s flaws. ...

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Introduction: “Those Times of Revolution”

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pp. 1-8

More than thirty years after it began, the phenomenon known as the Chicano Movement remains an enigma in U.S. history. Was it a “revolution,” as Los Lobos tell us, or was it more in line with the reformist activism pursued by the so-called Mexican-American generation? ...

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1. “A Movable Object Meeting an Irresistible Force”: Los Angeles’s Ethnic Mexican Community in the 1950s and Early 1960s

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pp. 9-41

The roots of Chicano insurgency are found in the post–World War II era. The children of the 1950s and early 1960s—the so-called baby boomers—became the rebels of the later 1960s and 1970s. This generation reaped the benefits of prosperity but also faced discrimination. ...

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2. “Birth of A New Symbol”: The Brown Berets

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pp. 42-60

In January 1967 Time magazine declared: “The Man of the Year 1966 is a generation: the man—and woman—of 25 and under.”1 The youth of the sixties, observed Time, are “well-educated, affluent, rebellious, responsible, pragmatic, idealistic, brave, ‘alienated,’ and hopeful.”2 ...

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3. “Chale No, We Won’t Go!”: The Chicano Moratorium Committee

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pp. 61-79

The Vietnam War had a profound effect on Chicano youth of the 1960s and ’70s. The high proportion of Mexican Americans fighting and dying in Southeast Asia, coupled with these young people’s heightened awareness of social issues, led to a vigorous protest against the war. ...

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4. “The Voice of the Chicano People”: La Raza Unida Party

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pp. 80-97

Alarmed by the violence of the Chicano Moratorium and other demonstrations, many local activists returned to the formula pioneered by the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA): to work for reform peacefully and within the political system. They chose, however, a party of their own, since neither the Republicans nor the Democrats had effectively responded to their needs. ...

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5. “Un Pueblo Sin Fronteras”: The Centro de Acción Social Autónomo (CASA)

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pp. 98-116

La Raza Unida Party’s failure saw the mantle of Chicano champion in Los Angeles fall upon a workers’ group, the Centro de Acción Social Autónomo–Hermandad General de Trabajadores (Center for Autonomous Social Action–General Brotherhood of Workers), commonly known as CASA. ...

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Afterword: “Why Are We Not Marching Like in the ’70s?”

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pp. 117-120

Performance artist Luis Alfaro’s video “Chicanismo” portrays a Chicano Studies professor, Salvador Rodríguez, as his people’s self-professed savior. “If we’re so retro,” laments Rodríguez, “why are we not marching like in the ’70s?”1 This is a question that has been on the minds of many Mexican Americans since the demise of the Chicano movement in Los Angeles. ...


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pp. 121-148


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pp. 149-158


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pp. 159-166

E-ISBN-13: 9780520935969
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520230187

Page Count: 183
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 55891121
MUSE Marc Record: Download for "¡Mi Raza Primero!" (My People First!)

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- California -- Los Angeles -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Mexican Americans -- California -- Los Angeles -- Ethnic identity.
  • Mexican Americans -- Civil rights -- California -- Los Angeles -- History -- 20th century.
  • Chicano movement -- California -- Los Angeles.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Ethnic relations.
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