From the Archives: 1971 Chicano march to Sacramento

May 12, 1971: Chicanos march along a desert road near the Salton Sea during a protest march from Calexico to Sacramento.
May 12, 1971: Chicanos march along a desert road near the Salton Sea during a protest march from Calexico to Sacramento.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)

The Chicano rights marchers were heading north when staff photographer John Malmin took this image from inside his company car. In the May 13, 1971, Los Angeles Times, staff writer Jack Jones reported:

About 25 determined Chicanos hiked single-file along the desert highway within sight of the Salton Sea Wednesday, shouting an occasional “Viva la Raza!” at passing cars and trucks.

Sometimes a truck driver waved back and honked. But now and then a big rig roared close enough to the highway shoulder to nearly blow the marchers down.

“We’ve had some racist catcalls from cars,” said Rosalio Munoz, chairman of the Chicano Moratorium Committee, sponsoring La March de La Reconquista, a three-month long march from Calexico to Sacramento to “reconquer the rights and dignity of Chicanos.”

About a third of the motorists greet the marchers with the peace sign or the raised fist of the Chicano movement, said Munoz, walking at the head of the nucleus group that grows with campesinos (farm workers) and others as it moves through farming settlements.


As the small band moved out of Imperial County into Riverside County along Highway 111, it included some Brown Berets from East Los Angeles, some members of Cesar Chavez’ farm workers union and individual Chicanos from as far away as El Paso.

They had covered about 60 miles since they began walking from Calexico May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) and they had been staying overnight with church and community center groups or camping out.

They stopped for lunch Wednesday when Mexican family brought food up in a small camper truck from Mexicali. …

The group arrived in the Los Angeles area June 15, 1971, staying at a Chicano community center in San Fernando.

In early August 1971, the marchers reached Sacramento. An Associated Press story in the Aug. 14, 1971, Los Angeles Times reported that 200 Chicano demonstrators held a 20-minute protest on the front lawn of Gov. Ronald Reagan’s home.

“The demonstration was the culmination of a week of rallies and demonstrations of a so-called ‘Chicano convention,’” the AP story said. “It was sparked by the 600-mile march of a small number of the demonstrators the last two months from Calexico.”

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