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Hispanic Great Debaters Profile: Sal Castro

Nov 5, 2017 5:00:00 PM Erik Fogel sal castro


“You start with the love of the kids, not the love of your subject matter. You start loving the kids, and know that you are going to go to the wall for them to make sure that they are successful.” - Sal Castro  

 Happy Birthday to Educator and Civil Rights Activist, Sal Castro October 25, 1933. Mr. Castro’s dedication to the Latin-American students of the Los Angeles School District led him to fight for real changes in school policy.  Mr. Castro was a teacher at Belmont High School, and active in the Chicano Youth Leadership Conference, he spoke out for the need of the inclusion for Latin-American students in student government.

The conference encouraged Latin-Americans to exchange ideas about and posture mutually supportive relationships between staff and Latin-American Students. The students involved in the conference felt that there was no recognition or respect for their own cultural identity. They also felt that Latin-American history was practically absent in the curriculum.

Some Latin-American students accepted indoctrination into another culture. In a 2011 interview with Gloria Ochoa Mr. Castro described the situation, “Kids were trying to survive. There was a fight between the girls about dyeing their hair blonde so they could fit in or pass.” 

Mr. Castro felt that leadership conference was a positive change, but it was it not enough. Hostilities continued toward the students and the Latin-American community in general. Frustrations continued, and culminated until the students staged protests and a walk-out in 1967. Throughout those challenging times, Mr. Castro remained dedicated to the students. He stated, “The main thing was that these kids had to graduate and go on to college.”  In 2009 the Los Angeles Board of Education voted to change Belmont High School into a middle school campus. The School board voted to name the new Middle School, Sal Castro Middle School, in honor of Mr. Castro’s years of dedicated service. The school officially opened for students in 2010. Mr. Castro remains an inspiration for anyone to who believes in equal opportunity in education and that everyone should have a voice in government!  

Sources: Chicano Conversations wikipedia.org LATimes.com

Erik Fogel

Written by Erik Fogel