The following is an excerpt from my book chapter in The Chicano Movement: Perspectives From The Twenty-First Century (2014).
YA BASTA! THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY: THE CHICANO POWER MOVEMENT IN OXNARD, CALIFORNIA
On the Oxnard Plain, the Chicana/o community responded to the Viet Nam War and the NCMC by organizing their own moratorium event, the La Raza Moratorium Peace March in September 1970. To avoid violence, the police met with march organizers from MAPA and MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlanis). John Soria of MAPA stated, “we don’t want any difficulties, only an effective and peaceful march.”
As part of the march activities, Roberto Flores, one of the march organizers, reported that fifteen members of the Oxnard Chicano Moratorium Committee would begin a fast on September 16 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Colonia to highlight the eight thousand Chicana/os killed in the Viet Nam War, which included thirty from Ventura County. Focusing on one key point of the march, Flores stated, “we are marching in protest so that our youth’s lives will not be used as pawns in a political game.”
More than one thousand Chicana/os marched from Colonia Park to Oxnard Community Center on September 19, in protest over the Viet Nam War. The crowd heard speeches from a number of local and national speakers. Ricardo Carmona of the Oxnard Chicano Moratorium Committee told the crowd, “we must band together and change our course by fighting for all of our rights.” Another local speaker, Roberto Aliasa stated, “we just want to be liberated” and “we have been raped of our land and heritage.”
Joey García, a member of Teatro de la Esperanza, a Chicano theater group from UCSB, read a powerful poem to the crowd on police brutality: “with a gun on your side/you walk so tall./But I know you’re afraid/’cause you can’t kill us all./So just go away, until another day,/When we shall meet face to face/once again,/at the moratorium.” Rosalio Muñoz of the NCMC reminded the crowd, “we are nation of people rising on our home front to fight for justice and we must organize to pressure the issues of police brutality and working conditions.” And finally, Reverend Blasé Bonpane pointed out that Chicana/os “were the largest single race sent [to Viet Nam], but they receive the least from society and face hunger, injustices, and racism.” The march ended with no violence and left a historical marker within the Chicana/o community in Oxnard, which called on organizing for social and political justice.