The Chicano Movement was an important chapter in the era of Civil Rights in the United States. People of Chicano/a cultural identities were left out of the narrative when it came to civil rights and when African-American’s won victories in landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, desegregation of schools and public accommodations were one part of the battle, but the right to remain true to your heritage and still have access to a good education were still issues that remained unchecked. Chicano’s began to awaken and educate themselves and push for the right of self-determination and autonomy as a community. However, Chicana women have been largely left out of the historical narrative of these young and older activists of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Although they have always had a presence in every effort for independence or struggle for equality on behalf of the Chicano people, women have been scarcely recognized and rarely revered such as Caesar Chavez and Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales.
At the 1969 Chicano Youth Liberation Conferences held in Denver Colorado, Enriqueta Longauex y Vasquez recalls how the movement was strong and united. There were workshops set up throughout the conference to educate those in attendance on how to speak up and voice the movement’s concerns and how to best advance the agenda of the Chicano Movimiento. However, Vasquez recalls how she was ready to speak at the conference concerning the issues facing women at the time but when it was her turn she was advised that it was best not to let her speak because “it was the consensus of the group that the Chicana woman does not want to be liberated.” (Rosales, 2004) Vasquez explains why the movement required this of her at the time but in retrospect, she realizes that by defining women by the roles they play in the home, rather than in the movement suppresses those who do not have a husband to rely upon to bring home a paycheck and put food on the table for her family.
Chicanas pressed for more autonomy in their own right, outside the movement, by obtaining an education. Pioneers of the Chicana movement such as Nita Gonzales, Deborah Mora-Espinoza, and Gloria Velasquez are women that fought against acculturation at Colorado State University – Boulder and have since carried on their work against elimination of the Chicano identity and the language throughout Colorado and elsewhere in the Southwest region. (Aldama, 2011). Female volunteers in the Chicano Movement were indispensable in their fight to spread information and bring injustices to light in every aspect of society. Orlinda de Vargas was no exception. She spearheaded the successful boycott of lettuce at local grocery stores and throughout the region by organizing a march from Pueblo to the State Capital in Denver in August of 1970 to bring into focus the farm worker’s grueling and inhumane working conditions at the hands of lettuce growers in California and across the nation. (Aldama, 2011)
At Colorado University – Boulder, Chicana professors such as Elisa Facio want to challenge the pedagogy of Chicana activists by examining the minds of female Chicana students and their familiarity of these brave women before them. In challenging the system, along with educating the young college women of today, they hope to create a dialogue that will inspire young Chicana’s today to learn about the past, critically analyze the misogynist conduct of society and Chicano men to keep advancing the notion that the female Chicana voice is equally as important as the male Chicano voice and their concerns are equally, if not more important than men’s concerns. In addressing these concerns in academia, where women are more likely to find a channel in which to confront inequality, educating and encouraging a conversation on these topics advances the cause when they enter their career fields. Women would seem to be more likely to have the confidence to challenge patriarchal structures and claim equanimity is the answer to advancement for all minorities. (Aldama, 2011)


Aldama, A. (2011). Eduring Legacies: Ethnic Histories and Cultures of Colorado. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Rosales, A. F. (2004). Testimonio: A documentary History of the Mexican American Struggle for Civil Rights. Houston: University of Houston Arte Publico Press.