Nevada The Politicization of the Latino
The Chicano/a movement of the 1960s enhanced the sociopolitical awareness of Mexican Americans nationwide.1 As a result, in many communities across the United States, Mexican Americans and other Latinos initiated campaigns to guarantee their civil, social, political, and economic rights within U.S. society.
As Latino migration to Nevada was on the increase during the 1960s, the Chicano movement was evolving on high school and college campuses throughout the Southwest. It was a civil rights struggle for social and cultural respect, political recognition, and economic rights. Chicanos protested the poor quality of education, the high dropout rate among Mexican American students, the lack of job opportunities, the absence of culturally relevant curricula, and the lack of Mexican American teachers, counselors, and administrators.
It was not until the 1970s, after the arrival of university-educated Chicanos and of other Latinos who had participated in government programs such as Upward Bound and the Educational Opportunity Programs, that the Latino community in Nevada became more politically active. In the early 1970s Chicano students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, pressured the administration to hire Chicano faculty and to implement a Chicano Studies program. They circulated petitions, established a need for the new academic program, and convinced the administration to implement a program offering a minor in ethnic studies.
By the mid-1970s, reacting to the many antiwar and civil rights protests racking the country, U.S. society had become less tolerant of protest as a legitimate mode of achieving social change. Mainstream U.S. residents began to tune out to the strident cries of disgruntled Chicano youth. As militancy became passe, Chicanos and other Latinos gradually developed other methods of bringing about social change.