Latinx Unidos spearheads exhibit in honor of East LA Walkouts

The club’s replicas of original walkout signs — Photo courtesy of Latinx Unidos

Latinx Unidos (LU) has put on an exhibit in the library in honor of the 50th anniversary of the East Los Angeles Walkouts. The club is celebrating the historical event which holds incredible importance for members of the club and of the Latinx community. The exhibit went up on Oct. 29 and will remain in the library for the rest of the semester.

According to LU President, junior Soli Loya-Lara, the East Los Angeles Walkouts were a series of events that spanned a week in 1968. A group of college students organized walkouts for several schools in the East Los Angeles district in response to the disproportionately poor conditions of the schools that Chicano (Mexican-American) children were forced to attend, compared to the schools that white children attended. The organizers published a list of demands asking to have this segregation between schools righted.

The exhibit itself has information on the conditions that caused students to walk out, what occurred during the week of walkouts and the results that came out of the walkouts and activists’ demands. The exhibit also features photos, replica posters and signs, and Time magazines from the time to offer context for society in 1968.  

LU wants to highlight the importance of the event in historical context as well as in the context of today’s politics and society. “Not only is it the 50th anniversary, and that’s a very important date, it’s important in this political time and climate to say that we have a history of this and we can do more, and we can keep building on this stuff that we’ve already done,” Loya-Lara said.

The idea of having the exhibit came to the club after Loya-Lara attended an exhibit on the same topic at a museum in Los Angeles last summer. Members of the club agreed on it after discussing the educational opportunities for both Latinx and non-Latinx people.

“We realized how important it could be to Latinx students to be able to know that we have this history of standing up for things that are important to us, and we also thought about how important it is to show this to people who aren’t Latinx to say, ‘We’ve been here, we’ve been working and doing these things,’” Loya-Lara said.

Eight students from the club have been working on research and putting the pieces of the exhibit together, and Liaison Librarian Katy Curtis is assisting the team with the logistics of setting the exhibit up in the library.

The library acts as a convenient location for having a public exhibit of this size, and the environment compliments the educational message that the exhibit portrays. “We want to be able to say that this is something that happened that we don’t get to learn about, so let me teach you something. We don’t learn about this stuff in our history classes,” Loya-Lara said.

The exhibit also exemplifies a message about how the members of Latinx Unidos want to present themselves on campus. Loya-Lara explained how the club wants to display something important to them while allowing individuals to educate themselves about these issues.

“It’s always been our push to be on campus in a way that celebrates ourselves for ourselves while also being able to open it up and have others learn about this in a constructive environment,” Loya-Lara said. “We want to teach people and share this thing that’s very important to us, but we want to do it in a way that acknowledges that we’re a minority on this campus and that we’re putting ourselves out there.”