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University of Washington students hold screening of the film Walkout

By Mantak Singh

Students hold screening of the HBO film Walkout.

Seattle, WA – On February 2, the Progressive Student Union (PSU) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) hosted a joint screening of the film Walkout.

Leading up to this event, MEChA and PSU spent weeks flyering and tabling together in order to spread the word. Forty people attended the film screening, held at the University of Washington’s Ethnic Cultural Center.

The film Walkout depicts the East Los Angeles blowouts of 1968 from the perspective of high school student Paula Crisostomo. Throughout the film, students organized against school bans on speaking Spanish, locking of restrooms, janitorial work as punishment, and the “pushing out” of Chicano students. By consistent and dedicated organizing, the students were able to mobilize 15,000 students in East LA to walk out of class in protest of inequality in the public school system. By the end of the film, the students won their demands, college enrollment among Chicanos dramatically increased, and charges that were placed against organizers were dropped.

Carlos Montes, a veteran Chicano activist who helped lead the 1968 walkouts, is portrayed in the film.

PSU and MEChA decided to show this film to a broader audience because knowing the history of past struggles is necessary to inform the fight for Chicano self-determination, as well as the ongoing student movement as a whole. After the film, PSU and MEChA facilitated a discussion on the role of police in suppressing student movements and the importance of the Chicano identity today.

Attendees had a lot to say about the film and its significance. “Nowadays the term Chicano is more of a cultural label, but as this film depicts it has its roots in political struggle. We need to bring back the political aspect, especially now in as time where Chicanos and Mexicans are facing heavy repression from the state,” said Adrián Manzano, a community member who attended the screening.

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