High School Teacher. Leader. Visionary. Radical Activist.
Sal Castro was a teacher at Lincoln High School, organizer of the 1968 Walkouts and an inspiration to Latino youth. When he was in second grade, his teacher made him sit in the corner for his inability to speak English. Years later, he became one of the few Mexican American teachers in East Los Angeles where he saw Chicano students encounter similar forms of discrimination. In 1963, he founded the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference, a nonprofit organization that trained future leaders at annual workshops.
The outspoken educator worked closely with student organizers of the Walkouts and was eventually arrested as one of the East Los Angeles 13. When he was fired from his job, students and parents staged protests and a sit-in at the LAUSD School Board. Castro was eventually reinstated and spent the rest of his career fighting for racial equality in education. For Castro, protest was “any kid with a book.” Today, the generations of students he nurtured are a testament to his impact as a teacher and activist. Rest in Power.
High School Senior.
Valedictorian. Leader. 17 Years Old.
Paula Crisostomo was a senior at Lincoln during the walkouts. Senior class vice president, a member of the student council and the girls council, she was an unlikely rabble-rouser. But at Lincoln, she recalled, students had legitimate gripes.
Teachers seemed to make only the minimum of effort, restrooms were never open, and when it rained, students "either didn't eat or we had to stand in the rain" because the lunch area was uncovered. She thought all high schools were like this--until a student action group she belonged to conducted a survey of other district schools.
Sal Castro and Paula Crisostomo identified the issues within East Los Angeles schools and took a stand against it by collectively organizing students.
Meanwhile, media coverage went nationwide, which led prominent political figures to take notice. Click below to see what else was happening in the year of 1968.