Pasadena Time Travel

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Roosevelt High School Strike, East Los Angeles, March 17, 1970 (after Raul Ruiz)

In March of 1969, students from three Pasadena high schools walked out to protest unequal treatment of minority students. The following fall, Pasadena Unified School District was desegregated by federal court order, attracting national attention to imbalances in the Pasadena schools. Although students’ grassroots activism was overshadowed by controversy that followed Pasadena's implementation of school busing, within the schools young people continued to organize for educational reform.

“The aftermath of the walkouts from Pasadena High School was that the superintendent brought in college kids from PCC to act as Chicano Student Advisors because there were no counselors that were Chicano. There was no one to guide us and say: Hey, you can go to college. Did you know that your grades are good enough and you can get a scholarship? You can go to school for free if you keep your grades up. We never had that. We started learning about our culture from these kids. They instituted a tutorial program to help out the kids and raise their GPA’s. W

e Chicanos formed a coalition with the Asians and the Blacks so we could put on our cultural weeks. We brought in Folklorico dancers and Mariachis. People cooked the food of our cultures and put it out in the quad for students to enjoy. The Asians brought in a drum group. The black groups had people who were studying African Dance and they did dances of different tribes. It wasn’t just for us. We wanted the other students of Pasadena High School to know what our culture was. It was for everybody.”

-Peter Ochoa, M.E.Ch.A President, Community Activist, Actor, Pasadena High School, Class of 1973

©2018 Deborah Aschheim. This project is made possible in part by the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division. Courtesy Raul Ruiz, La Raza Photographic collection, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center; Peter Ochoa.