Walkout

Walkout

DVD - 2006
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Based on a true story, the film describes how L.A.'s public schools treat Mexican-American students in 1968, with a mixture of negligence, apathy, and occasional cruelty. Graduation rates are low, students caught speaking Spanish in class are paddled on the spot, they are denied access to bathrooms at lunch. Paula Crisostomo is smart and gets good grades, but when she attends a student leadership conference at a wealthy Westside facility, she begins to see the bigger cultural picture. With inspiration from a sympathetic young teacher, Sal Castro, Paula becomes a major force in organizing huge walkouts from five East L.A. schools.

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nftaussig Sep 12, 2013

"Walkout," which was directed by Edward James Olmos, depicts the little known 1968 student walkout by Chicano (Mexican-American) students at five East Los Angeles high schools. As the history teacher Sal Castro, played by Michael Pena, tells his class, if an event is not recorded, it didn't happen. This film seeks to rectify the omission of this story from historical accounts of the civil rights struggle. The film focuses on Paula Crisostomo, played by Alexa Vega. Paula attends a school in which the bathrooms are locked during lunch, students endure corporal punishment if they speak Spanish in school, are made to do janitorial duty as punishment for misbehavior, and are not encouraged to apply for college. After Paula, who has a Filipino father and Chicano mother, attends a session for promising Chicano students at Sal's behest, they visit a predominantly white school where she is amazed by the campus and the quality of the school library. Seeing the disparities between how white and Chicano students are treated inspires Paula to join students at the other East Los Angeles high schools to organize a walkout to protest their treatment. The film depicts their struggles to achieve their goals in the face of police brutality, indifferent administrators, and misleading media portrayals. Olmos tells the story well, eliciting a strong performance from Alexa Vega. The film is well worth watching.

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