this is the second in a series of posts on the Brown Berets…
On May 5, 1971, the Brown Berets and the Chicano Moratorium Committee organized La Marcha de la Reconquista (A one-thousand mile march from Calexico to Sacramento). The political march and rally was organized as a way to demonstrate the grievances of the Chicana/o community. The march would cover approximately 1,000 miles in three months.
The march began in Calexico. It went through several Chicana/o barrios, such as El Centro, Brawley, Calipatria, Niland, the Salton Sea, Mecca, Coachella, Indio, Indian Wells, Palm Springs, San Jacinto, Redlands, Casa Blanca, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, McFarland, Fresno, Mendota, Merced, and Stockton.
The march ended with five days of organized protest in Sacramento. The key issues were farmworker’s rights, better education for Chicanas/os, the over-reaction of the state capitol riot police, welfare rights, and prison reform.
The Brown Berets realized that much more needed to be learned about the social conditions of the barrio. The Brown Berets also understood that there were many Chicana/o barrios who had still not heard the message of Chicanismo.
On August 21, 1971, therefore, the Brown Berets began La Caravana de la Reconquista (an Expedition through Aztlán and the Midwest). About 35 Brown Berets visited over 80 barrios in Occupied Aztlán.
The Brown Berets visited the Chicana/o barrios of California (Blythe, San Diego, San José, La Posada, & Los Angeles), Arizona (Phoenix, Guadalupe, Glendale, Chinle, Superior, Ajo, Eloy, Tucson, & Douglas), New Mexico (Silver City, Las Cruces, Mesilla, Tortugas, Albuquerque, Santa Fé, Las Vegas, Mora, Taos, Española, Mesquite, & Anthony), Oklahoma, Illinois (Chicago), Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Michigan (Detroit), Colorado (Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Denver, & Trinidad), and Texas (El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, Santa María, McAllen, Houston, & San Antonio.
After a two-week tour of the barrios of California, the Brown Berets returned briefly to Los Angeles. They returned to build a bronze monument to the Chicana/o struggle in Boyle Heights at the entrance of the Euclid Community Center on Whittier Blvd.
While taking a break, David Sánchez wrote the following poem on June 2, 1972 after he witnessed the death of a Chicana, Teresa García, a 14 year-old girl, while attending a carnival in Santa Fe Springs.
David Sánchez wondered why the message of the Chicano Movement had not reached some of the vato locos?
Homeboy killing homeboy
all from the same neighborhood of neighborhoods
Mothers crying, human life
raising children, human life
A new son is born…hope for new life