The Brown Berets: Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and the Impact on Education (by Sichen Hernandez-Martinez)

 

TITLE: The Brown Berets: Involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and the Impact on Education

 

STANDARDS: Intended Grade Level: 11-12th grade students

Key Ideas and Details: 2. Determine the central idea or information of primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas

 

Integration of knowledge and ideas: 7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g. visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question.

 

OVERVIEW: The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand the involvement of the Brown Berets during the Chicano Movement of the 1970s. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to understand the objectives and goals of the Brown Berets.

 

FRAMEWORK: For this lesson, students will be asked to analyze a primary source and two secondary sources dealing with the Chicano Movement and the Brown Berets. Students will first learn about the Chicano movement in order to understand the historical context surrounding the Brown Berets. To accomplish this, students will first watch the PBS documentary titled, “Taking Back the Schools.” Here, students will learn about the school walkouts of 1968 in which students asked for a higher quality of education, more Mexican-American teachers and advisers, and bilingual education, among other requests. Next, students will be asked to read a section of the primary source titled,”Brown Berets Hail ‘La Raza’ and Scorn the Establishment.”

From the primary source, students will learn about the Mexican-American pride that the Brown Berets worked hard to portray within the group and to the outside, the importance of building a space for Mexican-American youth to come together, and some of the encounters with police brutality. From the secondary source ¡Mi Raza Primero!” students will learn about the “Ten Point Program” more in detail. Finally, students will be given a short lecture to speak on the documentary’s important points as well as the connection between the documentary,the secondary source, and the primary source.

 

ESSENTIAL UNDERSTANDING:

The Brown Berets were part of the larger Chicano Movement during the Civil Rights and fought to bring an equal quality education to gain social, political, and economic equality for Mexican-Americans.

 

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:

  1. In the documentary, what were some of the things that Chicano students were protesting against?
  2. What were some things that made the student protests successful?
  3. What were some ways  in which the Brown Berets helped each other to build a community?
  4. What were some things that the Brown Berets believed in that directed the way in which they organized their group?
  5. What were the Brown Berets asking for in their Ten Point Program and why were they important?
  6. Who did the students count on for help during the movement?
  7. Why was the Chicano Movement and the Brown Berets’ involvement in the movement important?

 

GLOSSARY:

  1. Chicano- Term referring to someone who identifies as either being Mexican or Mexican-American and are born in the United States or in Mexico.
  2. Mexican-American- Term referring to someone who is of Mexican heritage, but who was born in the United States.
  3. Civil Rights Movement- Time during the 1970s in which several minority groups, such as Asians, Blacks, and Chicanos fought for equal rights in their everyday lives.

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Even though there are several laws in place that mandate K-12 education for all minors, since the beginning of the educational system in the United States, education had always been seen as something only White Euro-American individuals could attain. The 1970s was a time in which many minority groups came together to fight for an education that would serve their needs. To many, it was important that every child received a quality education regardless of their race and ethnicity. Usually, the Civil Rights Movement is painted as black and white and students learn about Martin Luther King Jr., and his famous “ I have a dream speech.” But, the 1970s was also of time during which several other minority groups came together to fight for an equal education as well as other civil rights including full voting rights and an end to de facto segregation.

 

During the 1970s, Mexican-American youth who were a part of the Brown Berets were learning what it meant to be Mexican-American and wanted to form an identity on their own terms. They knew that they had pride in being Mexican-American and Mexican and wanted to showcase to others, including their parents and older generations in their families, that they were not afraid to embrace that part of their identity. Using the term “Chicano” was one way in which Mexican-American youth demonstrated to others the power they felt in being Mexican-American.

 

MATERIALS:

PBS documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL4rQHKza9Y

 

ACTIVITIES: Activities planned throughout four days; each day’s activities planned for 55 minutes.

 

DAY 1

  1. Students will be introduced to the topic with the preface that this section will cover material that is not traditionally taught during Civil Rights sections.
  2. Students will then be asked to write down on a sheet of paper what if anything, they know about the Chicano movement (10 minutes)
  3. Students will discuss with each other what they have written down and then share each other’s thoughts with the class (5 minutes and 5 minutes)
  4. Students will then be shown the first half PBS documentary (25 minutes)
  5. Students will then be asked to write down their thoughts on the documentary thus far (5 minutes)
  6. To end class, students will be asked to share their thoughts with the class (5 minutes)

 

DAY 2

  1. Class will begin by watching the second half of the documentary (25 minutes)
  2. Students will be asked to read the Brown Berets, “Ten Point Program” (10 minutes)
  3. Students will be asked to reflect on the “Ten Point Program” and how it relates with the documentary.

 

DAY 3:

  1. Class will begin by having students read the primary source (15 minutes)
  2. Students will share their thoughts with the person next to them and then share with the class (10 minutes)
  3. Teacher will then incorporate the primary source, the “Ten Point Program,” and the documentary to give a short lecture (30 minutes) on the Brown Berets and discuss the following:
    1. the importance of education not only for the Brown Berets but for the upcoming generations
    2. the importance of creating spaces, such as the cafe, in order to create community.
    3. the Brown Beret’s pride in being Mexican-American and the meaning of the word Chicano and the political connotation it carries to this day
    4. the contribution of the Brown Berets during the walk outs and how they
    5. the Brown Berets belief in engaging in physical altercations when needed
  4. To end class, students will be asked to write down their thoughts to share with the class (if they wish) the following day.

 

DAY 4

  1. Students will be asked to reflect on how all three sources of information: the documentary, the secondary source discussing the “Ten Point Program,” and the primary source come together to tell some of the Brown Berets story. (5 minutes)
  2. Students will then be asked to add on to their reflections and write down how the actions of the Brown Berets and those involved in the Chicano Movement have impacted their education. (5 minutes)
  3. Students will then be asked to share their thoughts with the class as well as any final thoughts and next steps (if any) to continue discussion on the Brown Berets and the Chicano Movement outside of the classroom. (40 minutes)
  4. Teacher will encourage students to keep their reflections and add onto them whenever they wish to.

 

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

 

Blackwell, Maylei. Chicana power!: contested histories of feminism in the Chicano movement. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2011.

Chávez, Ernesto. !Mi Raza Primero! (My People First!). University of California Press, 2002.

Correa, Jennifer G. “The targeting of the East Los Angeles Brown Berets by a racial patriarchal capitalist state: Merging intersectionality and social movement research.” Critical Sociology 37, no. 1 (2011): 83-101.

Salazar, Ruben. “Brown Berets Hail ‘La Raza’ and Scorn the Establishment.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jun 16, 1969. http://search.proquest.com/docview/156241141?accountid=10141.

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