The Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s brought national visibility to the fight for Mexican American civil rights, and Missouri was no exception. Despite making up a small population in the state, Mexican Americans and Latinxs engaged in local and national efforts to end discrimination and bring about social change. Entire families participated in movement activities, like the Salazars in Kansas City. Carlos Salazar was introduced to the movement by his older brothers, Tony and Arthur, who were members of the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) Chapter at the University of Missouri—Kansas City in the early 1970s. As a high school student, learning about national struggles ignited a sense of cultural pride and encouraged him to fight for equal rights.
Salazar provides a glimpse of Chicano Movement activities in Kansas City in this oral history clip. He discusses how UMAS organized conferences that connected young activists to regional and national leaders like Cesar Chávez. Salazar also recalls his family picketing grocery stores on Saturday mornings to support the United Farm Workers’ nationwide consumer boycott of grapes and lettuce. Finally, he explains movement victories such as electing Mexican Americans to local and state government positions and the founding of organizations addressing Latinx-specific needs.
The Chicano Movement deeply influenced Salazar, making community activism a hallmark of his personal and professional life. He bolstered diversity initiatives with the Kansas City Power and Light Company before dedicating the last decade of his career to the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation and the United Way of Greater Kansas City. As Chairman of the Hispanic Advisory Board, Salazar was instrumental in establishing the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program at UMKC in 2011.
Creator: Tufts, Jennifer
Subject: Chicano Movement
Contributing Institution: LatinxKC Oral History Project at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
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Region: Kansas City Metro
Type: Audio Recording