MEChA and Chicano Student Organizations 1967-2012

Most social movement organizations last only a few years and that is especially true for student run organizations. But MEChA has been active on some campuses for nearly fifty years and the organization continues to grow, with more than 500 chapters as of 2012. MEChA was founded at a conference in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969 when students from a dozen campuses adopted “El Plan de Santa Barbara.” The manifesto called for the unification of all student organizations into one umbrella organization, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan which would become known by the acronym MEChA. By consolidating student’s political power, MEChA became and has continued to be a significant on-campus political force for change. From 1969 to 1971, MEChA grew rapidly in California with major centers of activism on campuses in southern California, and a few chapters opened along the East coast at Ivy League schools. By the 1980s, MEChA’s growth occurred predominately in California where community college chapters joined those that had previously started on university campuses. During the 1990s, MEChA experienced a decade of slow growth yet in the 2000s the organization saw an incredible upsurge of new chapters particularly at the high school level. Researched by Josue Estrada with special thanks to Roberto Tijerina Cantu, MEChA Leadership Manual: History, Philosophy & Organizational Strategy (2007). Other sources below.

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Sources: Annual MEChA Statewide Conference, Evergreen Valley College, San Jose, 1977-1983. Herman Baca Papers. MSS 0649. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego. List of conference participants by state and organization. “1969-1979 Ten Year of Chicano Student Progress,” National Chicano Student Conference. Denver, Colorado, 1979. Herman Baca Papers. MSS 0649. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego. Conference Participants. “Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano: Past, Present, and Future-A Time of Action,” National Chicano Student Conference. San Diego, California, 1983. Herman Baca Papers. MSS 0649. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego. Cantu, Roberto Tijerina. MEChA Leadership Manual: History, Philosophy, and Organizational Strategy. Riverside, California:  Coatzacoalco Publications, 2007.  Caballero, Cesar., and Delgado, Susana. Chicano Organizations Directory. New York: Neal-Schuman, 1985. Echeverría, Darius V. Aztlan Arizona: Mexican American Educational Empowerment, 1968-1978. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014. Licon, Gustavo, "!La Unión Hace La Fuerza!" (Unity Creates Strength!): M.E.Ch.A. and Chicana/o Student Activism in California, 1967--1999, 2009, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Valenzuela, Monica. “M.E.Ch.A: A Brief Southern California Chicana/o History, 1969-2010. Masters Thesis. California State University, Northridge, August 2011. United States. Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking People. Directory of Spanish Speaking Organizations in the United States. Washington, 1970.

Research and data compilation: Josue Estrada