In 1968, thousands of students participated in a series of protests that helped spark the Chicano Movement, it’s historically known as the East L.A. Walkouts (or Blowouts).

Bobby Verdugo and Yoli Ríos were both seniors at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, one of Los Angeles’ oldest and heavily Mexican American neighborhoods. Together, they experienced educational injustices that were common in many of the Eastside public schools at the time, like corporal punishment and a high dropout rate — almost 40% at Lincoln High. Students knew it was time for a change, and they knew they had to do something big.

With the help of a history teacher and college students, the Eastside high school students organized walkouts, or student protests, throughout the Eastside. Meanwhile, Bobby and Yoli were hitting new milestones in their relationship that would be the beginning of a 50-year love story.

After this episode originally aired in February 2019, Bobby and Yoli continued to travel around the country, sharing their experience as student organizers and participants in the 1968 Walkouts. Bobby Verdugo died in May of 2020 at the age of 69. The Chicano leader is remembered by Yoli and his two daughters and by the many students and young adults he’s mentored throughout his life.

Featured image by Janice Llamoca.


Latino USA is celebrating 30 years, 30 años, and we would love to hear from our listeners. Would you share with us your favorite Latino USA episode? Maybe it’s the one you remember the most, the one that kept you company during a road trip or the one you most shared with others. Or maybe you just have a birthday wish for us. Please leave us a voicemail at 646-571-1224 and we might feature your message in an upcoming show. Gracias. 

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