Today, the Education community lost one of the great ones. Sal Castro (1933-2013) was the inspiring teacher that encouraged students in East Los Angeles to stand up and fight for their right to equal treatment and an equal education during the 1960’s Blow Outs, aka “Walk-Outs.” It was a powerful time during the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles and for those of us born after this movement, it’s a time we’ve read about, learned about, modeled movements after and continue to honor. I was lucky enough to have met with Sal a few times. He was always encouraging, humble, honest and wore amazingly colorful “teacher ties” that off course, only a teacher would love.
When I was a 9th grader at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, I remember marching down the A-Building of our school and yelling “Walk-Out!” in protest of Governor Pete Wilson’s Prop. 187 and I told Sal this story on the day this photo was taken. He had a good laugh and said, “That’s right, mija!”
Sal was a champion for students and his smile, spirit, and never ending commitment will be missed. Here’s a photo of Sal, my amazing friend Yesi Ortiz and myself that was taken at the 40th commemoration of the Chicano Blow Outs in 2008 in Boyle Heights. We can honor Sal’s legacy by continuing to demand that our education system serve low income students and students of color with the same dignity and privilege that is standard in other more affluent communities across the country.
Sal’s role in the Chicano Movement and the student walk-outs of the late 60’s can be found in the PBS Documentary “CHICANO! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.” He was played by Michael Peña in Moctezuma Esparza’s 2006 HBO documentary, “Walk Out!“