LOS ANGELES (March 13, 2018) - In a nod to history, the Los Angeles School Board today saluted students who walked out for educational justice, leading to permanent reforms throughout L.A. Unified, including equitable academic opportunities and facilities for Latino students, and a substantial increase in the number of Latino administrators and teachers.
"Dreams and demands of young people mattered in 1968 as they do today in 2018,” said Board President Mónica García. "I am honored to join thousands across the country to recognize the leaders and courageous students of the 1968 Walkouts that ignited the Chicano/a civil rights movement and demanded justice from L.A. Unified. Our community has benefited from their sacrifice and remains grateful 50 years later. Join us as we commit to continue the demand for educational justice in L.A. and beyond."
She referred to the events of March 1968 when more than 10,000 students walked out of Abraham Lincoln High School, Theodore Roosevelt High School, Woodrow Wilson High School, James A. Garfield High School and Belmont High School to protest peacefully against educational inequity, overcrowded schools, insufficient guidance counseling, racial discrimination and other unjust learning conditions. They were joined by thousands of students from 15 additional schools.
“The student demonstrators of East Los Angeles stood up for their right to educational equity in 1968,” Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said. “This undoubtedly paved the way for the students who plan to stand up for their right to safer schools tomorrow.”
Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said, “Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate the voices of young people who have spoken up and advocated for long overdue change in public education and civic life. I am proud to commemorate the brave actions of our L.A. Unified students in 1968 and to applaud students everywhere who are standing up for peace and justice.”
Paying homage to a key leader of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez said, “As Mario Savio famously stated, ‘Sometimes the operation is so odious that you have to put your bodies upon the gears to make it stop.’ In March of 1968, a critical mass of students lived that idea when they walked out of their schools en masse to demand equity and dignity. The 50th anniversary of that walkout serves as a reminder of those students’ courage, how far we have come since then, and how far we need to go. I am glad we are commemorating their actions, and even happier that we are celebrating their spirit and cause.”
Board Member Kelly Gonez said, “I continue to be inspired by the heroes of 1968 who made history with their courage and their commitment to what was right for the students of Los Angeles. We still have a long way to go to achieve the promise of a high-quality education for every student, but we will not rest until we have achieved true equity and opportunity for all.”
Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic said, “The East L.A. Walkouts were a pivotal moment in the history of education in our state - and perhaps our nation. Students made it clear that they would no longer tolerate conditions predicated by poverty or ethnicity. We've come a long way since then - and still have further to go."
Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said, “Every student deserves high expectations, rigorous instruction, and teachers and administrators who push them to succeed academically. This is the legacy of a student-led movement that transformed this District.”
Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766