Latino Community Activism in the Twenty-First Century

Confronting the Future, Learning from the Past

Authored by: Carmen I. Mercado , Luis O. Reyes

Handbook of Latinos and Education

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  December  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805858396
eBook ISBN: 9780203866078
Adobe ISBN: 9781135236694


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This chapter is about community activism that seeks to affect change in public school policy with the goal of improving the education of Latina and Latino students in U.S. schools. As Puerto Rican activist Antonia Pantoja (1989) reminds us, it is part of a broader struggle for a just and humane society. Activism in response to oppression, powerlessness, and invisibility has a long history in the Americas, as the historical record documents. However, the goals and purposes of Latino community activism have changed over time as U.S. communities grapple with dramatic demographic change as well as the changing dynamics of geographical, political, social, and economic forces that shape and influence all facets of life. Michael Apple illuminates the problem when he says that, “powerful movements and alliances can radically shift the relationship between educational policies and practices and the relation of dominance and subordination in the larger society, but not in a direction that any of us find ethically or politically justifiable” (2006, p. 203). Events during the last two decades of the 20th century, beginning with one of the legacies of the Reagan Administration, A Nation at Risk, are testimony to changing dynamics that have had an adverse impact on Latino communities.

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