This Day in History

March 20, 1969: Mexican-American Students Walkout in Colorado

Time Periods: 1961
Themes: Education, Latinx

Denver police attack students on the steps of West High School on March 20, 1969. Source: Denver Post

On March 20, 1969, one of the largest student protests in Colorado history was met with police violence when over a hundred Chicano and Chicana students at Denver’s West High School walked out of their classes to protest racism in their school.

The students, along with support from Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales and other members of Denver’s Crusade for Justice, organized the walkout. The students demanded more bilingual classes, Chicano history and literature to be a part of the curriculum, the firing of a faculty member, as well as a call for teachers to stop advising students to join the military while war raged in Vietnam.

Source: Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

On the morning of March 20, students began leaving classes in small groups. Continue reading at History Colorado.

In La Voz Bilingue, journalist James Mejia notes that the students, of all ages, were met by police armed with gas masks, billy clubs, tear gas canisters, and helicopters.

Here is a lesson on the 1968 walkouts (also called blowouts) in Los Angeles. Find related sources below.