The Sleeping Giant Awakes!

(Introduction to the pamphlet version of Raza Youth Rise Up: Student Mobilizations in the 1990s)

March 2006 saw a stunning eruption of anger and determination by millions of immigrants — undocumented and “legal” alike. We hit the streets in hundreds of places from Chicago and LA all the way to small towns like Smithtown, NC and Stony Brook, NY.

These demonstrations and Days of Absence were sparked by menacing legislation to increase penalties against immigrants and anyone helping them. The anger behind the protest comes from working hard for long hours and low pay to make this United States run and make its rulers rich beyond belief and getting rewarded with contempt and mistreatment.

A major factor in our upsurge is the young people. Suddenly, we are in the third great wave of high school walkouts in the history of Aztlán. The first began in the late 1960s as the rise of the Chicano National Movement and protests against the Vietnam War swept through California, Colorado, Texas and other states.

This pamphlet tells the story of the second wave of student blowouts in the 1990s. It too came in response to a campaign of brutal legal attacks on immigrants and Spanish speakers in California in the form of laws like Proposition 187.

The lessons here are important to the student activists and strikers busting out of school today. In its first weeks, this third wave has reached father than the first two, spreading to every part of the US. For it to continue and grow, today’s students must learn from their older sisters and brothers lessons about how to build ongoing organizations, how to link up with and seek aid from allies in our communities and more broadly, and how to reject machismo and other nonsense that weakens us from within.

¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Chicano Workteam
April 7, 2006
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