In Memoriam – Sal Castro

Sal Castro . . . Presente!
Sal Castro . . . Presente!

Thoughts on Sal Castro

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

It feels like we have entered an era of turbulence.

On a personal level, my thoughts are about life-long LA educator, Sal Castro. He passed away a few days ago. How do you explain who he was to someone who never knew him? In a way, he was like LA Times journalist Ruben Salazar – the journalist that was killed in 1970 in ELA. Castro had a similar impact, but he did not die. He inspired a generation.

Most people know of him through the movie “Walkout!” But if that’s how they know him, then in a sense they only know about six months of his life. Sal never stopped crusading for what some people call educational reform. We he really did was commence a campaign against educational apartheid. And that battle never ended.

In Tucson, we’ve been battling for seven years and Sal was well aware of the struggle there, in Arizona. He wanted to speak in Tucson when TUSD and the state decided that what he stood for was not welcome in this backward state. Still we invited him, but his health was already not in the best of shape.

Two years ago, one of his brightest students, Paula Crrisostomo, came in his place. And she was banned from speaking not by one, but two schools in Tucson (Tucson High and Cholla). Still she spoke to my students at the University of Arizona. Her presence was powerful that year.

After speaking to my students she went to one of the most chaotic school board meetings in Tucson’s history. The entire school board, the building and its surroundings were heavily militarized… And she was there in the middle of it all… 40 years after having taking part in a historic battle with thousands of students throughout LA schools, she was right in the middle of another historic battle, this time, in defense of Raza Studies.

Sal was the essence of what it means to be a teacher. In some societies a teacher is the highest example of what it means to be a good human being. A teacher imparts knowledge, imparts wisdom and sets an example.

Soon, I will feel compelled to write about him. A little more about him. At the moment, I am like many, attempting to digest the significance, the impact, of his life and his death.

We Mourn the Passing of Sal Castro, a Great Civil Rights Leader

By Mónica García, Board President
Los Angeles Unified School District

It is with great respect and gratitude that we express our heartfelt feelings of loss to the family of civil rights leader Sal Castro. 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. Sal Castro’s courage and conviction will continue to be inspirational to future generation of students and educators.

Sal Castro, born on October 25, 1933 was a Mexican-American educator and activist. Mr. Castro was most known for his role in the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, a series of protests against unequal education conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District. During this time, students demanded a culturally relevant curriculum, new schools, and an end to corporal punishment among other demands.

For his part in the demonstrations, Mr. Castro was arrested and charged with 15 counts of conspiracy to disrupt public schools and 15 counts of conspiracy to disturb the peace. Four years later, the charges were dropped-but not before he and thousands of students persevered until their concerns could no longer be ignored.

Since then, Castro continued educating and pressing for educational reform in Los Angeles-area schools.

On October 13, 2009, the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to name a new Middle School located on the campus of Belmont High School, Sal Castro Middle School.

Thank you Sal Castro, on behalf of all the hundreds of thousands of students who benefited from your life’s work.
You taught students to stand up for their rights and that it was beautiful to be Chicano.

Que Viva Sal Castro!