Sal Castro, Former Teacher, Chicano Activist Dies

By City News Service

Former LAUSD teacher Sal Castro, who joined his students in East Los Angeles school walkouts in 1968 to protest inequities in educational opportunities for Latinos and whose efforts were documented in the HBO film “Walkout,” died today at age 79, according to his family.

The educator and activist died peacefully of natural causes, according to the family. Funeral services were pending.

The city of Los Angeles recognized Sal Castro in 2011 during Hispanic Heritage Month . (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Former state legislator and now Los Angeles City Council candidate Gil Cedillo said via Twitter, “Today we lost a giant in the Chicano movement.”

Castro worked at various inner-city schools before landing a teaching job at Belmont High School, where he taught social studies. But his activism with Spanish-speaking students led to him being transferred to Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles.

He was part of a committee that made recommendations to the county about ways of improving education for Latino students, and began working with students whose meetings became the Chicano Youth Leadership Conferences, which trained Latino student activists and leaders.

Castro became increasingly active in his criticism of inequalities between East Los Angeles schools and other campuses. Unrest among activists and students led to walkouts – which were later dubbed “Blowouts” – that began in March 1968 with one school, then grew to include five campuses, including Lincoln, and Latino college students. The demonstrations eventually led to clashes between students and police.

Castro was arrested and charged with disrupting schools and disturbing the peace, although the charges were later dropped.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina compared Castro with Cesar Chavez.

“For Latinos in Los Angeles, Sal Castro was as influential and inspirational as United Farm Workers co-founder Cesar Chavez was nationally – an example of the power of organizing who personified the possibility of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds,” Molina said.

LAUSD Board of Education President Monica Garcia said Castro “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 dedication will continue to be inspirational to future generations of students and educators.”

A middle school on the campus of Belmont High School was named Sal Castro Middle School in his honor in 2009.

Castro’s work on behalf of inner-city schools and participation in the student marches was documented in the HBO film “Walkout,” directed by Edward James Olmos.

City Councilman Jose Huizar said Castro was a “warrior” for education.

“He put himself at considerable risk during a volatile time in our country’s history and never gave up the fight,” Huizar said. “I had the honor of getting to know him during my time on the LAUSD Board of Education. He was a true hero and an icon whose work continues through the countless people he inspired.”

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, called Castro “a tireless fighter and devoted public servant to our community.”

“His life’s work inspired a generation of activists to follow his lead in working to improve educational opportunities for all children, especially Spanish-speaking and minority students who had to overcome many barriers in pursuit of a good education to better their lives,” he said.

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April 15, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


13 Responses to “Sal Castro, Former Teacher, Chicano Activist Dies”

  1. Eduvijes " EVA" Lopez on April 15th, 2013 4:05 pm

    R.I.P. Sal Castro your were the best. You will be missed….>3

  2. Raymond Rios on April 15th, 2013 5:16 pm

    Very sad news. An incredible man who put his life and career on the line for his deep convictions on the sub-quality of education at the time. He protested it with intelligence, heart, and boldness during a time when Mexican-American students were not given much credit on their true potential by the then educational establishment. A true Chicano warrior.
    Rest in Peace Mr. Castro.

  3. Chicano de Aztlan on April 15th, 2013 8:13 pm

    Please stop interjecting the term “Latino” into the spaces where EVEN Sal Castro Himself would have said CHICANO!

  4. Karla funes on April 15th, 2013 8:43 pm

    Mr. Castro you will be missed by many. Thank you sir for being a wonderful teacher to me and many others at Belmont. Class of 93 will never forget you. R.I .P

  5. Carmen Cesena on April 16th, 2013 6:00 am

    The current status of education in the Spanish speaking communities continues to be disparate. Students continue to struggle daily to simply obtain what others take for granted. Sal Castro showed many of us that taking a stand was a must if we were to progress. Almost a half century later we need his Spirit to live on. En Paz descance Mr. Castro.

  6. Los Angeles Chicano Rights Activist... - ABC News | Latestwire on April 16th, 2013 6:55 am

    […] in 1968 protestsLos Angeles TimesSal Castro, Chicano Educator and Activist, Dies at 79Politic365Sal Castro, Former Teacher, Chicano Activist DiesBell Gardens SunOC Weekly (blog)all 10 news […]

  7. cesar tejeda on April 16th, 2013 5:21 pm


  8. alex Jacinto alexja on April 17th, 2013 1:14 pm

    When & where is the Rosary?


    Alex Jacinto

  9. Salvador Castro Chicano Movement Leader Dies at 79 | iChicano on April 18th, 2013 11:57 am

    […] and ever since dedicated his life to learning and leadership,” board President Monica Garcia said in a statement. “Sal Castro’s courage and dedication will continue to be inspirational to future generation of […]

  10. vicente zepeda on April 18th, 2013 3:44 pm

    hello im a very close friend of carmen zapata and of sal castro since 1976 my name is vicente i would really like to go to his funeral if anyone knows were is this going to take place please let mee know i would really appreciate it

  11. Editor on April 19th, 2013 10:38 am

    The Rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m., Wed. April 24 at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church – 2660 N. VermonT, L.A. 90027. The Funeral Mass will be held on Thurs. April 25 at 9:30 a.m., at the Cathedral- Pur Lady Queen of the Angels- in downtown Los Angeles.

  12. Jorge Acevedo on April 24th, 2013 5:20 am

    Mr. Castro well here I am thanks for being who you. Thanks for helping go to a University thou times were hard as I grew up to having to make life what is now the 80 s were hard but not compared to you. Well I did graduate hs and college I always thought about taking those class watching the minority struggle but as you you can change and I did. Those who know yes I overcame plenty and on a mission to helping others achieving dreams of higher learning. Always Jorge Acevedo class 1989 Belmont

  13. Peter S. López on July 15th, 2013 11:21 pm

    Sad to hear about this. I am in Sacramento. When the Walkouts happened down there in Los Angeles we found out and had walkouts of our own up here . It was a major leap in my consciousness at the time.

    May Companero Sal Castro RIP.

    Venceremos! @Peta_de_Aztlan

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