Revolt of the Cockroach People Pg. 1-133 Nathan Legge Tommy Stickles Juan Maciel
History • Race and the War on Poverty by Robert Bauman • 90 – “The number of persons of Mexican descent living in Los Angeles double from over 150,000 in 1950 to just under 300,000 in 1960.” • This was due to a higher birthrate (Mexicanos 2009) in the 1950’s and a crumbling economy, which usually causes mass migration of impoverished farmers into cities.
Lyndon Johnson’s “Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.” • Lyndon Johnson’s ”War on Poverty” dedicated funds for poor minorities, including those in Los Angeles. This created tension between African American and Chicano groups who wanted more of the funding for themselves. Older groups (LULAC, GI Forum, MAPA) were moderate compared to the groups made up by groups created by younger revolutionaries (Brown Berets, La RazaUnida) who were “inspired by black nationalism . . . to form separatist, economic-nationalist” undergrounds. • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUgs2O7Okqc&feature=share
The Story • Oscar Zeta Acosta (Buffalo Z. Brown, or Zeta)- Is a Chicano lawyer. One of the leaders of the Chicanos in the LA area, they called them selves the Brown Power Movement and were known to be as dangerous as the Black Panthers. Acosta helps organize protests and helps the revolutionaries by representing everyone that gets charged with crime regarding the revolution. • 6 – Hunter S. Thompson writes that Acosta believed he would die at the age of 33. What does that say about him?
Chapter 2 • 22 – He is there to write an amazing book about the Chicano Movement and use it for income. • 28 – “Politically, I believe in absolutely nothing. I wouldn’t lift a finger to fight anyone. . . . The best way to accomplish what you want is simply to work for it, on an individual level.”
30 – Acosta’s first encounter with institutional racism. • 30 – “After a moment . . . . march with a Mexican.” • 30 – “So what is it? Had my mother hit it on the head? Am I shamed of my race?” • 30 – “That night I get . . . . Me in particular.” • Why does Acosta suddenly want to become the greatest Chicano activist ever?
Chapter 3 • Acosta meets Gilbert, Ruth, and Risco in their underground Chicano Militants Organization. The extent of their activism seems little more than posters and vandalism. • Gilbert- Acosta meets him after being in LA for three months. Acosta describes him as “a cross between a fat black frog and a Corsican pirate,”(32). Gilbert talks Acosta into coming to one of their rallies. Also talks him into being their Chicano lawyer. • Riscois described as being a curly haired Cuban with slick tongue and very white teeth. Gilbert and Risco are mainly protesters. They join and make many protests, by making picket signs, chants and rallying the Chicano people. • Ruth- Works with Risco and Gilbert in the Chicano Militant Organization.
36 – Earlier political (radical rally) life in the early 60’s. Because of repeated failures at that time, he had no intention of getting involved with the Chicano Movement. • 40 – He is drawn into the movement of “a thousand Chicanos” most of them students. This “Blow Out” was most likely organized by the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) who were very active that year. • 41 – Why does Acosta cry while marching with the students? • 41 – “I am remembering Mr. Wilkie and my own grammar school fiasco. And now, twenty years later, here I am giving cigarettes to scrawny children, kids who dare to act without their parents’ permission, at the risk of getting clubbed and busted by uniformed monsters.”
Chapter 4 • Why is Acosta a lawyer who wants to be a writer? • 43 – “All through law school . . . . I still wanted to be the best at it.” • Acosta seeks Cesar Chavez’ advice as to whether he should join the Chicano Movement, and whether militancy is the right strategy. Chavez tells him militancy is a different method for the same end, and Acosta decides there that he will devote his life to the movement.
What causes an epiphany in Acosta? At what moment does he decide to join the revolution? • 47 – “I know then and there . . . . With my Chicano soul.”
Chapter 5 • The police raid and arrest inner circle of the Chicano Militant Organization; Gilbert and Risco among them. Thirteen members are arrested in all (The East LA Thirteen). Acosta becomes their attorney and begins a campaign to gather support and workers for the coming trial. Acosta forms the Chicano Legal Defense organization. • Black Eagle is one of the East LA 13, and one of Acosta’s clients and friends. Used to date Lady Feathers.
Why is the East LA Thirteen arrested? (Two answers) • 54 – “That’s what I mean. . . . the Chief of Police.” • Five days later, the bail for the thirteen is set at a thousand dollars per person, and by appealing to the Kennedy and McCarthy campaigns, the militants are let go. Kennedy is assassinated.
Chapter 6 • Acosta files a brief to the Court of Appeals claiming that the indictment is on false grounds; that the CM did not plan violent acts and vandalism. It takes a year for the Grand Jury to review to case and rule. • “A year of waiting. A year of fear at meetings. A year of demonstrations” (71). The CLF protests this case and other injustices. • Acosta meets Mayor Yorty. Neither of them likes the other. • In late Fall, Acosta joins the Chicano Law Students in their protest against Cardinal McIntyre. They meet with and insult Cardinal McIntyre and the events of Chapter 1 take place.
What does the black bird on pg. 70 symbolize? • 70 – Black Bird is a metaphor for the establishment, seeking to destroy him and “Throw fire on him.”
Chapter 1 • Why do the Chicano Law Students organize a protest against St. Basil’s Cathedral? • Chicano Liberation Front (300 Chicanos) storm St. Basil’s Cathedral to protest class inequality in religion. Among them members of the Chicano Militants Organization. • 14 – Why does Acosta compare the police to ants?
13 – “We were at the home base of the holy man who encouraged presidents to drop fire on the Cockroaches in far-off villages in Vietnam.” (Remember the Black Bird)http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=dDw-zFFhFgc#t=53s • 19 – “I see Gilbert and Black Eagle. . . . Hands off me.” • Why would Acosta want to be arrested?
Chapter 7 • After the St. Basil 21 are arrested, Acosta leaves his government-funded office and sets up in a CMO basement. He then organizes a nonviolent picket of the cathedral, using the Jewish temple as sanctuary. • Rosaline, Veronica, and Madeline • Are “close friends” to Acosta-- we will say-- and help him with little things like carrying his suit case. Acosta meets them all at the night they picket the cathedral. Rosalie is the tall dark haired girl. Veronica has red hair and is the shortest. Madeline wears glasses.
Chapter 8 • The arrest and death of Robert Fernandez is recounted by his family, followed by his autopsy. • Lupe Fernandez is a hefty woman and a sister to Robert. She comes to Acosta for help involving the death of her brother Robert. Acosta helps her in trying to prove that Robert was murdered. She gives Acosta his second big case (89). • Andy De Silva is small time politico in East LA; a bit actor in B-grade movies who owns a bar on the boulevard. He considers himself something of a spokesman for the Chicano” (94). His nephew Mickey de Silva was in Roberts cell when he “hung himself”.
90-91 – “I ask for the whole story . . . . until he is exterminated.” • www.youtube.com/watch?v=COIHwG6GgYI&feature=player_detailpage#t=147s
Chapter 9 • The trial of Robert’s death. • What exposes the case as murder? • 114 – “I rise and ask . . . . Torn and jagged.” • The jury rules that Robert committed suicide (118).
Chapter 10 • 120 – “Movida. Revolution. ‘If I got to do it alone . . . I’m gonna get even for Robert.’” • Acosta decides to take revenge for Robert, and after driving around with Gilbert and Risco searching for a target, they decide to throw molotov cocktails into a Safeway Store. • Rosalie comes up with the idea that Acosta should run for Sheriff of LA. He files the papers for candidacy the next day (as ‘Zeta Brown’).
125 – When the three men are looking to avenge Robert’s death, why does Acosta refuse to simply kill a random cop? • 126 – “’If we knew that. . . . to me,’ Gilbert says.”