Valdez was raised in a family of farmworkers who were migrants in the lands of caucasian Americans. He grew up in Delano, California and was exposed to farm work at a young age. He was well educated, despite the fact that his parents were in frequent travels. He finished college and went on to see labor unions and their struggles in a stranger country (Elam Jr. 3). In 1965, he started to participate in a strike organized by a union of farmers called the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (Elam Jr. 3). He was an apprentice then at the San Francisco Mime Troupe when he convinced leaders of the labor union to create a theater company of their own (Elam Jr. 3). He was successful in convincing UFWOC leaders and staged various plays that expressed the sentiments of the union as well as a cultural expression of Chicanos as a minority group. Themes of the play involved struggles of Mexican farmers, meager income in farm work, among others (Elam Jr. 3).
In 1965, Valdez founded El Teatro Campesino, which was worldly-renowned (Huerta 69). Actors who were part of his newly-organized theater group were farmers, who were eager to expose the injustices they suffered in the fields while actively urging other farmers to join their cause, too (Huerta 69). Two years later, Valdez’s theater group abandoned the common portrayal of agricultural issues and began to explore other issues concerning the Chicanos or the Mexicans (Huerta 70). Valdez separated from the union because of the need to improve his craft in terms of standards in an effective theater play. El Teatro Campesino still graced farmers’ invitations to perform during union strikes, but also did portrayals of other worthy issues such as the American educational system and the status of the Chicanos in the particular sector (Huerta 70). The Education System. Valdez created plays that depict his criticisms against the American educational system. No Saco Nada de la Escuela or He Didn’t Get Anything from School depicts how the education system forced the Americans’ dominant culture into the minds of cultural minorities such as the Chicanos (Valdez 66). Through that play, Valdez was able to convey his message of his opposition against the imposition of the English language as a medium of instruction in class, while discrimination against non-English speakers continued (Valdez 70-71). Murillo, Jr. et al. described language as a symbol of one’s identity; it is the “blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow” (19). Thus, Valdez believed that it is not an easy transition for students who were born and raised with the Spanish language as the mother tongue (66). Moreover, No Saco Nada de la Escuela portrayed how Valdez sees the American education system as a venue for bullying, and the toleration of it among Latino students. English was portrayed as the key to communication, the eradication of discrimination, and the perfect way to pass. Latinos in the Education System: 1950s to 1970s During the 1950s up until the 1960s, only few Mexican students successfully finished high school (I. Lopez 16-17), especially in schools located in Los Angeles. According to Lopez, the quality of education can be considered as the “
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