Our student union originated with an organization started by Chicanx and Latinos in 1964, known as the Chicanx Student Union. The union took on the MEChA identity, five years later, at the Santa Barbara Conference, as an attempt to unify with other Chicanx student unions along the West coast. Now there are about 300 MEChA Chapters in existence nationwide. The state of Oregon composes our region or Aztlan del Noroeste, formally known as Mictlampa Cihuatlampa.
The signing of El Plan de Santa Barbara marked the beginning of a consolidated student movement. In 1969, Chicanx students from throughout California, Texas, Arizona, and other states, including a delegation from the University of Oregon, met in Santa Barbara to unify the Chicanx Student Movement. It was at this conference that MEChA was founded. Soon there after, hundreds of Chicanx organizations throughout the nation adopted the MEChA name in a show of unity.
Movimiento was chosen in recognition that we are much more than an organization, coalition, or partnership. We are a movement that strives for self-determination of our Raza by raising political, social, and cultural awareness. We aim to strengthen and liberate out people by working in solidarity to reinforce our cultural values and traditions, and redefine politics to meet our people’s needs. Together, as part of larger movement of people – farm workers, laborers, activists, scholars, politicians, professionals, and community members – we must move forward and fight for the rights and respect that nuestra Raza deserves.
Estudiantil was chosen because our main struggles are for educational rights. We realize that access to education at all levels, especially an education that addresses our needs as Chicanxs, is a crucial step in the advancement and self-empowerment of our people. Therefore, as students, we must initiate the appropriate action to receive the education necessary to determine our own destiny. Education is a means to end all forms of oppression.
Chicanx refers to a person who embraces the political ideology of chicanismo which is resistant to a colonial state and embraces indigenous roots and cultural, historical heritage and struggle. While it can refer to a racial or ethnic identity it is also a state of mind. It is a symbol of resistance as well as a symbol of unity for those who strive to end all types of oppression. It is a demand for self-identity and respect. In addition, it’s an assertion of the pride we have for our unique history and culture that has sprung from both our European and indigenous ancestors. It is the clearest expression of national and mental consciousness, as well as the loudest demand for self-determination.
Aztlan was the legendary homeland of the Aztecas – the Mexica and other Chichimec tribes – before they migrated southward and settled in Anahuac (the valley of Mexico). During the height of the Chicanx Movement, Chicanx activists adopted Aztlan as a unifying, nationalistic symbol that embodied the experiences of the Chicano people. At the time, it became synonymous with the vast territories of the Southwest, brutally stolen from a Mexican people marginalized and betrayed by the hostile custodians of the Manifest Destiny. Because we are a constantly shifting movement, Aztlan also symbolizes a state of consciousness for which we strive. Aztlan as a state of consciousness initiated the rebirth of our identity as indigenous people.