LOS ANGELES (CNS) – 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 2006 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.
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, although the charges were later dropped.
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 wrote on Twitter that Castro “was an education warrior who fought for equal access & (opportunity) 4 Latino students — an honor 2 know him.”