A tribute to Sal CastroÂs legacy of educational leadership
CSULA alumnus honored with school naming
Recognizing the legacy of an educator and activist who championed quality and equality of education, a new middle school in the Los Angeles-Westlake district was recently named the Salvador B. Castro Middle School.
Castro Middle SchoolÂlocated on the existing Belmont High School campus at 1575 West 2nd StreetÂwas officially dedicated Saturday, June 5, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Sal Castro, who received his bachelorÂs degree in social studies from Cal State L.A. (formerly L.A. State College), is acknowledged for his history-making role in the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts. Also referred to as the ÂChicano blowouts,Â they were a series of protests against unequal conditions and the quality of education in Los Angeles Unified School District schools.
His efforts in changing the course of public education were portrayed in a 2006 HBO-film, Walkout, directed by CSULA alumnus Edward James Olmos. He was also honored by former President Bill Clinton at a White House ceremony in 1996.
Castro has taught social studies at LAUSD schools for 43 years. In 2003, he retired from teaching at Belmont High School, but he continues to advocate for educational reform in Los Angeles schools.
Sal CastroÂs graduation portrait in 1961 yearbook of L.A. State College (now Cal State L.A.).
In response to the school naming, Castro said, ÂThis is actually an honor to the bravery of all the students who walked out 42 years ago, protesting the conditions of the schools and wanting to improve education. It was unselfish on their part to make schools better for future generations. It was a historical moment; a remarkable part of the American civil rights movement.Â
Castro shared, ÂCal State L.A. helped prepare me to become an educator. I had an enjoyable experience at what was then L.A. State. I had great professors. I was part of the Young Democrats club at L.A. State, and I served as a volunteer advanceman at the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign in 1960.Â
According to CSULA Social Work Professor Rita Ledesma, ÂMr. Castro has been an impassioned leader on educational issues affecting Chicano/Latino communities for more than 40 years. He provided support to students during the 1968 student walkouts at the four local high schools; and he championed the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference (CYLC), which aims to promote higher education for Chicano/Latino students.
ÂI personally benefitted from Mr. CastroÂs advocacy and support,Â said Ledesma. ÂI attended CYLC in spring 1968 and UCLA Upward Bound in summer 1968, when Mr. Castro served as an administrator in the program. Over the last several years, I had the great honor to be invited to CYLC to speak to high school students about the importance of higher education and community service.Â
To open for classes in the 2010-11 school year, Castro Middle School will accommodate more than 550 students from grades 6-8.
For more about Sal Castro, the school naming, and the 1968 walkouts:
- ÂEducation Hero HonoredÂ (4LAkids):
- ÂL.A. school honors a living revolutionaryÂ (Los Angeles Times):
- ÂSchool named after one of our ownÂ (United Teacher Newspaper):
- ÂSal CastroÂs Impact on Education Honored in School NamingÂ (Eastern Group Publications):
- ÂLocal school named in honor of Sal CastroÂ (L.A. Examiner):
- 2006 Sal Castro and the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference (program booklet):
- ÂChicano Studies celebrates historic student walkoutÂ (University Times):
- ÂCal State L.A. event to commemorate 1968 student walkouts at L.A. high schoolsÂ (press release):
- Sal Castro Middle School Dedication Ceremony: ÂA Great Day to Be ChicanoÂ (YouTube video):
- Chicano Studies department at Cal State L.A.:
- Young Democrats club photo with Sal Castro squatting second from the left:
(source: 1961 Los Angeles State College Yearbook)