Review

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have originally written a review of this back when the movie first aired (acutally before that because I saw a pre-screening at ASU) but removed my review because of a group of vociferous, petty people that were bashing the movie and were being actually hostile to me via personal messages. To hell with them. Here is my original review in its entirety: The movie Walkout revolves around the 1968 Walkout by Chicano students in Los Angeles protesting unequal treatment in the schools. I believe 5 schools were involved (Garfield was one of them & I'm willing to bet that it's the same Garfield High in L.A. that was featured in the movie Stand & Deliver w/EJO.) The students were subjected to corporeal punishment for speaking Spanish in class, they were forced to urinate outside during lunch hour because the schools would lock the bathroom doors, and they would be made to do janitorial work as punishment (but the white students were not.) After making "surveys" to find out the students' wishes, they attempted to have Dr. Nava (played by Edward James Olmos who also directed the film) a school board member present this to the board for implementation. After being stalled the students who were also in cooperating with the "Brown Panthers" (a militant group similar to the Black Panthers) to organize the change as well as a teacher Sal Castro from the school at Lincoln decided to do a Walkout of all 5 schools the following Wednesday. This delay was important because it enabled them to organize & "inspire" by getting the media to be there. As they mentioned more than once in the movie, if it isn't written down in history, it's like it never happened.

    They walked out on the following Wednesday. It was basically a fairly peaceful protest. They decided not to back down & walkout again. But this time only a few of the schools walked out. Unfortunately, the police were there & were merciless in their treatment of the students. The "news" coverage didn't include the beatings and arrests the students received. Downtrodden & feeling as if they didn't accomplish much, the students had a decision to make. They decided to walkout again- this time they invited family and friends. This sent a message to the school board that this would not just "go away" and with the support of their families, they were able to get the school board to listen. But this wasn't the end. The police then began to arrest the "L.A. 13" which were the organizers & the "Brown Panthers" that helped by supporting the students. These people were faced with "conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor" which is a felony & they were looking at 66 years+ in prison. They were finally acquitted a year later.

    One of the best parts of this advance screening was getting to meet Moctesuma Esparza who was an actual participant in the walkouts, one of the "L.A. 13" and the producer of the film. A long time activist, he has also produced such other movies as Selena, Gettysburg, Introducing Dorothy Danderidge, Milagro Beanfield War and Villa Alegre- a children's TV show from 1973 that I remember watching & learning Spanish from! (how about that 6 degrees of separation, eh? Even more bizarre is years ago I got Jaime A. Escalante's autograph- I presented it to Edward James Olmos the inspirational teacher, Mr. Escalante in the movie, Stand and Deliver and he signed the back of it! Cool, huh?! Also, Mr. Olmos' son, Bodie played the part of Mr. Esparza in the movie!) Mr. Olmos was also a VERY inspirational speaker. He mentioned that America does not have one person of color (apart from Martin Luther King, Jr.) that is a real national hero. One must wonder, how long? To meet someone who was a part of history, a part of helping to bring equal rights to people is very special. Mr. Esparza and Mr. Olmos helped to make everyone that was there believe that they too could make a difference. It was a movie that touched me on many levels- not the least of which was the girl's relationship with her father. He didn't understand why she was participating in demonstrations and being an "agitator." But he finally came around & actually encouraged her not to give up in her darkest moment.

    This was an excellent movie, entertaining, informative and relevant. The actual footage of the students being beaten and arrested was not shown until 1995! Almost 30 years after their struggle! I wonder today how often the news shows us only what they want us to see. The struggle for equal rights is NEVER over and I am sure this movie will help to inspire many people. I will definitely tape it on March 18th & buy the DVD! Hopefully the DVD will have lots of extra features. They said it is a possibility that the movie may make it to the theaters. I pray that the Latino/Chicano community will turn out in droves to see this- the support of both the Latino/Chicano community as well as people like myself that support human rights is vital to more movies like this one being made. Knowing our history- OURS as in American history that includes all races and their contributions is what energizes and keeps our way of life vibrant. Getting the message out there is more than half the battle. As someone once told me, "knowledge is power." ¬°Viva la Raza! :)