Funeral today for Sal Castro, who led ‘68 Chicano student walkouts

Salvador "Sal" Castro, at L.A. City Hall in 2004.
Salvador “Sal” Castro, at L.A. City Hall in 2004.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Funeral services will be held Thursday morning for former teacher Salvador “Sal” Castro, who played a central role in the 1968 Eastside school walkouts to protest inequalities in education for Latinos in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Castro died in his sleep April 15 after a seven-month bout with cancer at the age of 79, according to his family. A 9:30 a.m. funeral Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will be led by the Rev. James Mott, pastor of Our Mother of Good Counsel Church.

As a teacher at Lincoln High School, Castro guided student walkouts at five predominantly Mexican American schools on the Eastside in what came to be seen as a milestone in community activism. The students demanded bilingual education, ethnic studies and other changes at a time when the curriculum largely ignored Mexican American history and educators forbid Chicano students to speak Spanish and often steered them toward menial jobs rather than college despite strong academic abilities, according to the district.


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Castro was arrested and charged with conspiracy to disrupt public schools and disturb the peace for his alleged role in guiding the “blowouts.” But the charges were eventually dropped and he came to be hailed as a courageous civil rights leader. Salvador B. Castro Middle School was named after him several years ago.

“He will be remembered as a teacher, counselor, leader and courageous adult who stood with students in the 1968 walkouts and ever since dedicated his life to learning and leadership,” board President Monica Garcia said in a statement. “Sal Castro’s courage and dedication will continue to be inspirational to future generations of students and educators.”


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