In the 1990s, I was part of the organizing efforts of the Brown Berets in Los Angeles, which had resurfaced in early 1992 after nearly a twenty-year absence (Note: in some barrios, there were Brown Beret chapters that continued after the disbandment in 1972).
I focused my work in the East Los Angeles & Boyle Heights area. I have previously posted some background work on my experiences with the group and through my university studies I have documented the group’s history.
As I was digging through some of my old personal documents, I came across a press release I wrote on behalf of the Brown Berets for a National Raza Huelga Day. Although the idea for a national economic boycott had been called before, it really had not been a strategic weapon many advocated to use.
However, as I was developing my own political consciousness I realized that as a community we needed to send a statement. It was an idealistic action at that time, and I as recall many groups and individuals said that it was “crazy” and/or “impossible” but I reasoned that we had nothing to lose. I was able to get the group and others on board for this action.
In recent years, the Occupy Movement has taken on some progressive issues, but my personal critique has been that the Occupy Movement has failed to articulate the needs of the Chicana/o community. I don’t think they’re in any position to speak on behalf of our community anyway, but that’s something that has been addressed elsewhere.
The point I am trying to make is that sometime in 1998-1999, an idea developed that called for complete self-determination. The ideas were rooted in my study of the Chicano Movement and the Brown Berets, but were also developed with a focus on the present conditions of the time (1999).
As such, I share this document for historical purposes, especially in light of the fact that not much is being done in terms of advocating for human and civil rights at the national level within the Chicana/o community.
This call for a National Raza Huelga Day in 1999 was a first step in (re)connecting different communities as this was a time when I began using the power of the “Internet” with the creation of a Brown Beret website, which today no longer exists (Note: there are several different Brown Beret groups in existence today that splintered from the group reformed in 1992). This document represented my further Chicano radicalization.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 19,1999
National Freedom Committee
BROWN BERETS ORGANIZATION ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR THE NATIONAL RAZA HUELGA DAY – SEPTEMBER 16, 1999
National Chicana/o Boycott. One day No-School, No-Work, No-Buy Stoppage to Protest Discrimination against the Los Angeles Chicana/o Community
Los Angeles, CA- On Monday, July 19th, 1999 the National Freedom Committee will announce the National Raza Huelga Day, September 16, 1999, the one day national no-school, no-work, no-buy, stoppage will protest racial, gender, language and cultural discrimination against Chicanas/os in the areas of employment and education. Various community organizations listed below, from Southern California will gather at the birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street, on July 19, 1999 to make known their plans for this mass political demonstration.
The following are a list of demands the political demonstration on September 16th, 1999 will address:
- Enforcement of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
- Land reparations to Mexican/Chicano people
- Chicana/o self-determination (Economic, Political, Cultural)
- Freedom to all Chicana/o political prisoners (Free Ramsey Muniz)
- Abolishment of La Migra
- Implemenation of Chicana/o Police review boards
- Demilitarization of Chicana/o Barrios & disarmament of racist police officers
- Quality jobs & equal wages for Chicanas/os (End of dual wage system)
- Quality housing & health care for Chicanas/os
- Quality & relevant education for Chicanas/os (Chicano Studies at all schools)
- Recruitment & retention of Chicana/o students in higher education
- Establishment of Bilingual education programs
- Abolishment of anti-Chicano/Mexican legislation
- End to the sterilization of Chicanas
- Full human and civil rights for la Mujer
- Abolishment of U.S. Military Recruitment of Chicanas/os
As stated above the following are a list of organizations that will be endorsing the political demonstration to be held on September 16th, 1999: A) The National Freedom Committee; B) The Brown Beret National Organization; C) The Brown Beret Student Organization at L.A. Trade Tech College; D) Nepantla Productions; E) Los Activistas de Aztlan; F) National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Prisoners of War & Political Prisoners; G) Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) at Washington University in St. Louis, MO; H) Nation of Aztlan I) Xicana/o Studies Alumni Association at California State University, Dominguez Hills.