Key Figures of the East LA School Walkouts

Sal Castro

Castro was a teacher and academic counselor at Lincoln High School and organized the first walkouts with students for over a year. Castro acknowledged that the academic obstacles that caused harm to students was a serious problem that he wanted to improve. After weeks of the walkout, Castro and 12 others who organized the walkouts were arrested for disturbing the peace, but were later released on bail. He lost his job as a teacher, but after much protest from the students he was reinstated a year later.

Sal Castro served a mentor and leader to students throughout his teaching career. The 12 students who organized the walkouts have stated that he played massive role in the encouraging the students to pursue better conditions within the school.

Learn more about Sal Castro here

Moctesuma Esparza

Esparza was one of the students who recognized the injustices of the school system while being a student at the Univeresity of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He helped organize and plan the student walkouts to be effective in combating the dropout rate. In addition, Esparza took the role of speaking to the media to explain and expand the message and objective of the walkouts. 

At age 18, he was one of thirteen students who were charged with a felony (conspiracy to commit a misdeamnor) , which had a 45-year sentence. Fortunately, Esparza was never jailed on these charges and would later have a career in film, in which he helped Latinos find work in film production.

Learn more about Moctesuma Esparza here

Paula Crisostomo

At the age of 17, Paula Crisostomo began organizing the student strike. She helped raise awareness of the student movement in community meetings and essays in the local newspaper. In addition, Crisostomo tried to improve the conditions of her high school by the school principal, congressmen, and local politicians, but none offered help. 

However, she and the other students organizing the strike were able to convince the school board to adopt two of the students’ demands, bilingual classes and the addition of more Mexican American faculty. After high school, Crisostomo worked in community relations and grassroots organizations.

Learn more about Paula Crisostomo here