University of Washington students hear Carlos Montes speak on immigrant rights and Chicano power
Seattle, WA- On May 25, 60 students and community members gathered at the Ethnic and Cultural Center of UW Seattle to listen to the experiences of longtime organizer Carlos Montes. Carlos Montes is a nationally recognized leader in the Chicano, immigrant rights and anti-war movements. He co-founded the Brown Berets, a Chicano youth organization, in the late 1960s and was a key figure in the Chicano Blowouts, a series of high school walkouts protesting racism and inequality. Today, Carlos Montes is an active and well know community leader in East Los Angeles.
Montes opened the event with a story about how he helped develop a young Chicano student who tragically lost their brother due to police violence into a resilient fighter against police crime, tying the struggle for community control of police and public education to Chicano power. He also spoke about a recent campaign fighting back in response to the border policies that exploit Mexican, Chicano and indigenous peoples living there.
Chicano students asked Montes questions that ranged from advice on to how to build up community power in working-class communities, to his experience and perspective on Venezuelan and Cuban movements recently. MEChA students were especially interested in what Montes had to say about how to organize in their own community. Montes simply replied, “There is no magic formula, you just have to gather people together and do it.”
After the event, organizations such as United Farm Workers, Progressive Student Union and others had a dialogue on organizing experiences and difficulties they have encountered. Raymond Chen, a Progressive Student Union member, said, “Although there’s no easy way to build a student movement as Carlos said, talking to an experienced activist like him does provide a lot of useful information and suggestions that makes the future a lot brighter.”