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Montejano / Becoming Heavily Involved in Student Activism

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Arionus: You were just about to tell us how you got involved with the Chicano activist movement? Montejano: Yeah, and at that time I was involved with Rosie Castro. They were asking for volunteers. I was right there at the Crystal City boycott. Same thin, same principle, as Edgewood and Lenier and these guys really went on strike. These guys were asking- because they did not want the kids to lose touch with school. Because we were with education and we were education majors, they asked for volunteers to go and spend the Christmas break- the month we were off and we were off a month- in Crystal City and we went and Jose Angel was there, I met Luz. We worked with the kids in this big old community center or hall, whatever, I will never forget that. I think the girls had a house to themselves. Some of the people had two houses, one for the guys and one for the girls. And we would go and teach these kids in this big community hall. And we would play with them, read to them, help them with their writing. We did that for a whole month. That is when they were organizing the Raza Unida Party. Actually, Rosie became a Raza Unida candidates. Have you met with her yet? I do not know if you will. That’s how I started getting involved and going to all the functions and meetings, and all this. I started going to this place right there on Barkley and Castroville. I want to say it was a barbershop, it use to be a barbershop- I do not know what it was, but they would lend us this place. Somebody lived up above. They would lend us this place and all the leaders would come and meet there and they called in Barrios Unidos. It was Juan Patlan, he was the original head of the Mexican American Unity Counsel. They had MANO there, the Mexican American Neighborhood Organization. They had MAYO there, and they had Theatro That was with George Valasquez. Then, they had this little known- starting the Brown Berets. I use to go do volunteer there because Rosie told me they need volunteers. We use to go there supposedly like secretaries and do filing and typing, and do whatever it was that these men wanted. That is how I started going to these different functions and volunteering for fundraisers and things like this. I also went to a lot of the protests, you know. As a citizen, protesting- not belonging to any one group just yet, just going as an individual protesting for the rights. What attracted me to the Brown Berets is- I do not know. I went to the Deiz y Seis de Septiembre celebration and they had a booth there and they were all there dressed like soldados. Something to me about the discipline they had at that time attracted me. But, then I was dismayed that did not have any women. They did not have any women in the Brown Berets and that where I met my compadre Cherry Erispe (?). I baptized his daughter. Actually, I just talked to him not that long ago. It was his birthday. I started hanging around with them- with Jerry. I met some of the other Berets and actually became- I guess you want to call it “lover” or girlfriend to one of them. I am not going to say his name. That was pretty hot and heave for a while, but it really had nothing to do with my commitment to La Raza. Finally, I approached Jan Guarjado and we talked about the possibilities of opening up a women’s chapter. But my job was not done because he said you need to bring some women that were truly committed. They were like soldiers. That is what they were and he explained to me what it was and I was like all militant. It was like I was going to join the Chicano version of the Weather Underground Movement, you know. We were going to blow up things, you know really. Go back to Malcolm X- by any means necessary. So, I was like that already. My mind was there. I honestly had a hard time around women that wanted to go that route, but I did. Two of them were from Del Rio, my hometown. One of them was a former roommate- Silvia Hernandez and Lettie Gallegos. They came- they wanted to be Brown Berets. Lettie actually made the Army her career.

Interview Interview with Diana Montejano
Subjects Citizenship
Citizenship › Civic Engagement
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Higher Education
Electoral Politics › Raza Unida Party
Historic Events › Crystal City Uprising, 1969
Student Activism
Chicano Power
Chicano Power › Brown Berets
Chicano Power › Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO)
People › X, Malcolm
Direct Action › Protests
Community Organizations › Community outreach › Volunteering
Tags Castro, Rosie
Mexican American Unity Counsel
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Interview date 2016-06-29
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Montejano, Diana
Interviewers Arionus, Steve
Sinta, Vinicio
Locations San Antonio, TX
Del Rio, TX
Duration 00:06:57
Citation "Becoming Heavily Involved in Student Activism ," from Diana Montejano oral history interview with Steve Arionus and Vinicio Sinta,  June 29, 2016, San Antonio, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed July 12, 2024