Photo by Reed Harp La Raza holds a rally for striking Chicanos. Walkout in Crystal City Austin and Crystal City Crystal City, the town where it all began, at least in the modern Texas era, is once again in the news as a site of Mexican-American revolt against the social status that has been the lot of the chicano in this state for many years. In 1963 Crystal City startled the state by electing five Mexican-Americans to the city council \(Obs., was postwar Texas’ first example of brown activism, and the pace has picked up considerably since then La Huelga in Starr County, the farmworkers’ march from the Valley to Austin, the takeover by browns of the Mathis city government and, lately, rising discontent on the part of the chicano young, high school aged, mostly, at such outposts as Del Rio, Uvalde, Kingsville, Alice, Abilene, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo, Laredo, and now, completing the circle, Crystal City. On Dec. 9 several hundred Mexican-American students staged a school walkout here as the result of a dispute over the selection of a homecoming queen and the school board’s rejection of chicano demands for changes in the way Crystal City schools are operated. Among the demands are the removal of certain teachers the strikers consider racially prejudiced, major changes in policy toward Mexican-American students, the institution of courses in Mexican-American history and culture, and changes in the methods of selecting school favorites, cheerleaders, and members of the National Honor Society. Of course, the situation that is the context of the student walkout at Crystal City is one that, basically, has existed for years in that city and elsewhere in South Texas .Mexican-Americans feeling that they are exploited and scorned by the Anglo-Americans, who usually have more political, economic, and social power, even though the Anglos often are outnumbered by chicanos in South Texas communities. The event that began the escalation of events to the walkout evidently occurred last spring when, in April, cheerleaders were chosen at Crystal City High School. As in the previous four or five years, and probably even before that, three Anglos and one Mexican-American were chosen not by student body election but by a committee of teachers appointed by the principal. The brown students finally, last April, became weary of seeing the Anglos dominate yet another school honor despite the decided preponderance of chicano students. This semester there are 2,540 Mexican-American students \(86% of the to 376 Anglos, and 12 Negroes. Two brown student leaders, Severita Lara and Armando Trevino, presented a petition to the principal, John B. Lair, complaining about the disproportionate number of Anglo cheerleaders. Lair rejected the complaint. The petition then was given Supt. John Billings, who said he would see to it that two more cheerleaders were added so that there could be a three-three split as between Anglos and chicanos. The complaining students were pleased at the time but they since have decided that bargain wasn’t such a good one, considering the percentage of brown students at the school. ALSO IN the spring a list of other grievances was given the superintendent, who promised that they would be looked into. Among the complaints were objections to the method for selecting the homecoming queen and class favorites \(most beautiful, most handsome, and The homecoming queen selection is governed by the Ex-Students’ Association, a predominantly Anglo, off-campus organization. A rule was passed that the queen must be the daughter of a Crystal City High School graduate. The practical effect of this is to exclude large numbers of potential chicano candidates, since most Mexican-American parents are not high school graduates. This spring there were six Mexican-American and 25 Anglo girls in the competition. Class favorites presently are selected by the faculty, which is mostly Anglo \(by 97 The only result of the presentation of the grievances was the passage in August by the school board of a policy statement: Inasmuch as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the most beautiful and most handsome will be selected by the student body. As twirlers and cheerleaders utilize a developed talent and perform as leaders of specially trained organizations, they will be selected on the basis of demonstrated ability by judges [from] outside the school district. January 2, 1970 5
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