The Mexican American Civil Rights Links in Uvalde

Share this content

May 26, 2022

This story first appeared in Axios. An excerpt can be viewed below. To read or listen to the full story click here.

Uvalde, Texas, may have been unknown to most Americans before Tuesday's mass shooting, but this town has deep roots in the Mexican American struggle for civil rights.

The big picture: The massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead on Tuesday took place in a school district home to one of the most crucial school walkouts in civil rights history.

  • Uvalde also has educated Latino journalists, historians and intellectuals for generations. 
  • For decades, residents of the town, named after Spanish military commander Juan de Ugalde, lived with economic and racial divisions between whites and Mexican Americans. 

Flashback: In 1970, a small group of Mexican American students in Uvalde staged a walkout to protest the district's refusal to renew the contract of Josue “George” Garza, a popular Mexican American teacher.

  • The students gave an all-white school board a list of 14 demands, including hiring more Mexican American educators and offering Chicano history courses.
  • The school board refused to negotiate, and the walkout grew from 20o or so students to 500 people. It would last for six weeks and became one of the longest school walkouts in U.S. history.

What they're saying: “We were tired of the discrimination,” former student Sergio Porrastold the Voces Oral History Center. “We said, 'We’ve had enough of this. Why don’t we do a huelga, or just walk out?' It just happened.”

(This story first appeared in Axios and was written by Russell Contreras.)