Dr. Louis R. Negrete was born and raised in Los Angeles. During his distinguished career, Dr. Negrete served as Director of Project Head Start for the Council of Mexican American Affairs and was also a founding member of the new Chicano Studies Department at the California State University in Los Angeles. He served as professor of Chicano Studies for some 35 years at Cal State LA. CHICANO HOMELAND is his first book. Dr. Negrete makes his home in Los Angeles, California.
Web site for book at www.ChicanoHomeland.com
1: Can you tell us what your book, Chicano Homeland, is about?
My book is about activist Chicano organizations that fought against anti-Mexican racism in Los Angeles during the 1960’s and the 1980’s. It describes how they opposed police mistreatment, schools that didn’t teach, and general discrimination in society. The organization and struggle of the united farm workers for just salaries encouraged community groups to oppose injustice. At the same time, reports of unfair rates of killing of Spanish Surname and Afro-American soldiers in Vietnam generated anger expressed in open opposition to the war. The Chicano movement, as activists called themselves, became an important part of the national civil rights movement. A younger generation of activists formed the Brown Berets to confront police mistreatment and the Chicano Moratorium Committee attracted thousands of supporters to movement events. Much protest events expressed defense of immigrant families. Other activist groups included in the book were also part of the growing movement.
2: Why did you write your book?
I believe that all minority groups must fight back against racism in local and national politics. The Chicano movement was successful as evident by an increase in Mexican Americans and other Latinos now employed as police officers, teachers, government workers, medical staff, nonprofit agencies, business, all across the range of employment and careers, including election to public office. But persistence of continuing poverty and homelessness in Latino neighborhoods must compel the younger generation of activists to keep the movement alive. Anti-immigrant government policies popular today pose a major threat to democracy. The Chicano people and Latinos, especially younger generations, must fight racism. They must know about the Chicano movement as part of their own national history.
3: What kind of message is your book trying to tell your readers?
All people who immigrant to America face hard times. They manage to overcome economic and social barriers to become true Americans. They also resist racial prejudice and assist other immigrant communities to survive as Americans. The national civil rights movement involved people from many immigrant origins, including Mexican Americans. My book tells the history of how Chicanos fought to claim an American identity like other minority groups. This is an important part of American history.
4: Who influenced you to write your book?
No one in particular influenced me to write my book. My teaching experience as a university professor made me realize that I should write about what I learned based on what I observed and experienced. I marched with community activists and attended protest events off campus. I also dedicated much time to building the Department of Chicano Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.
5: What kind of advice would you give to other non-fiction authors?
Enjoy your writing. Be honest in what you write about based in part on your own experience.
Los Angeles author-educator Dr. Louis R. Negrete lived and now tells the compelling, dynamic story of the movement for the rights of Mexican-Americans in the USA, particularly those In California. In his riveting, powerfully written historical book, CHICANO HOMELAND, retired college professor Dr. Negrete vividly describes the issues that sparked the Chicano civil rights movement, that saw unbridled police brutality, institutional poverty (that still even exists today, he says), demands for better schools, the anti-Vietnam war protests and the support for undocumented immigrants.
Mr. Negrete’s CHICANO HOMELAND captures in its historical pages the early Mexican settlement in Los Angeles to the 1950s Zoot Suit riots in L.A. to where Chicanos stand today in the California culture. He gives us a colorful, vivid history of a people that every Hispanic should read, especially as he says, “Chicanos and Chicanas, so they can know where they came from, how they got here and be inspired to chart a course to a genuine, lasting political power for what is now the largest ethnic minority in the United States.”
Commented author Dr. Louis R. Negrete on his book, “I believe that Americans must fight back against racism and national politics. The Chicano movement was a success but resistance to racism must continue, especially with the anti-immigrant policies popular today. I wrote the book based upon my experience growing up in Los Angeles, aware of persistent demands for justice and an end to racism. Younger Mexican-Americans and other minorities should know this part of United States history.”