In the middle of celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came the sad news that Chicano movement leader and icon Reies Lopez Tijerina passed away at the age of 88. Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez in a speech to activists once stated, “He was our Chicano Malcolm X.”
Tijerina, a former evangelist and fiery orator with roots in South Texas, has often been described as one of the major warriors of the Chicano movement that advocated for civil rights for Mexican-Americans across the Southwest in the 1960s and 1970s.
He relished the attention but preferred to be called an “Indo-Hispano,” a term he said more accurately reflected his ethnic and cultural heritage.
Tijerina, the only major Chicano activist who served time in prison, was widely admired and despised as the former leader of the Alianza, a militant citizens group in New Mexico, that sought to repossess old Spanish land grants in the Southwest. The group contended Mexican-American heirs were wrongfully deprived of their land.
He will be remembered most for his land-grant reclamation movement in New Mexico. One can learn more about Tijerina by watching the video below: