The Chicano Movement of the late 1960’s helped spark cultural and historical pride in our people. Chicanas/Chicanos demanded to be treated as equals and denounced acculturation and assimilation. Brown pride began to express itself through poetry, literature, art and theater. The contributions of the Chicano Movement are numerous and continue to be very valuable to our society.
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) is a student organization that promotes higher education, cultura, and historia. MEChA was founded on the principles of self-determination for the liberation of our people. We believe that political involvement and education is the avenue for change in our society.
In March of 1969, at Denver, Colorado the Crusade for Justice organized the National Chicano Youth Conference that drafted the basic premises for the Chicana/Chicano Movement in El Plan de Aztlán (EPA). A synopsis of El Plan stipulates: 1) We are Chicanas and Chicanos of Aztlán reclaiming the land of our birth (Chicana/Chicano Nation); 2) Aztlán belongs to indigenous people, who are sovereign and not subject to a foreign culture; 3) We are a union of free pueblos forming a bronze (Chicana/Chicano) Nation; 4) Chicano nationalism, as the key to mobilization and organization, is the common denominator to bring consensus to the Chicana/Chicano Movement; 5) Cultural values strengthen our identity as La Familia de La Raza; and 6) EPA, as a basic plan of Chicana/Chicano liberation, sought the formation of an independent national political party that would represent the sentiments of the Chicana/Chicano community.
In April of 1969 over 100 Chicanas/Chicanos came together at UC Santa Barbara to formulate a plan for higher education: El Plan de Santa Barbara. With this document they were successful in the development of two very important contributions to the Chicano Movement: Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and Chicano Studies.
The fundamental principles that led to the founding of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán are found in El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPSB). The Manifesto of EPSB sees self-determination for the Chicana/Chicano community as the only acceptable way for our people to gain socioeconomic justice. El Plan argues that a strong nationalist identity is a necessary step in building a program of self-determination. Self-determination, in this regard, challenges those involved in principle struggle to respect the rights of all Chicano and Chicanos. EPSB stresses that in organizing MEChA every opportunity must be taken to educate Raza. At the same time, El Plan exhorts Mechistas to preserve Chicana/Chicano culture in this culturally diverse society, both in community and on campus. Thus, a Chicana/Chicano Nation is a necessity defined as an educational, socioeconomic, and empowered Chicana/Chicano community. The Manifesto of EPSB warns us in part:
We recognize that without a strategic use of education, an education that places value on what we value, we will not realize our destiny. Chicanos [and Chicanas] recognize the central importance of institutions of higher learning to model progress, in this case, to the development of our community. But, we go further: we believe that higher education must contribute to the formation of a complete man [and woman] who truly values life and freedom. (p.10) EPSB
Both El Plan de Aztlán (EPA) and El Plan de Santa Barbara (EPSB) served as the historical foundation for the establishment of a viable Chicana/Chicano Movimiento and are therefore fundamental to the MEChA Philosophy.
Movimiento means that the organization is dedicated to the movement to gain self-determination.
Estudiantil, identifies the organization as a student led effort. MEChA is an international autonomous student led organization. MEChA offers students opportunities to develop leadership skills as well as to expand their social capital. And at the heart of the name is Chicanista- a way of thinking, which has roots from the Chicano movement during the 1960’s in the United States.
Chicanista refers to a mentality of social change for the betterment of people and our communities. This term signifies that you do not have to be a Chicanx to join us in our events, meetings and overall organization. M.E.Ch.A. welcomes everyone to join us in the effort towards social improvements. We believe that diversity is essential in society and that it a source of ideas and different ways of thinking.
“La Union Hace la Fuerza!”