Making a Difference with the Chicano Movement Through Media




​​What is the lasting impact of the Chicano movement?  Cesar Chavez? What do people in Kern County need to know about the grape boycott, which originated in Delano, California, the birthplace of the United Farm Workers? 

María Rodríguez asked herself those questions as an undergrad communications student and figured that if she didn’t know, chances were good that she was not alone.

It was while taking a class in the Spanish department called the Chicano Experience things began making sense for Rodríguez, a Delano native.  From that seed of understanding grew a passion to learn more about the Chicano experience. 

​“It was an epiphany,” Rodríguez said. 

When Rodríguez returned to earn her master’s degree in Spanish, she decided to do her th​esis on the effect of the Chicano movement and what people knew of it.  ​The result is her documentary, “5 Decades Later: The Aftermath of the Grape Strike.” 

​Rodríguez’s research consisted of interviews, surveys and archival research. The documentary’s running time is 45 minutes and is subtitled in English and Spanish.

​“That was my contribution, to kind of teach people, and hopefully by teaching them, they’ll gain interest in the topic,” Rodríguez said. 

The filmmaker explores the lasting impact of the Chicano movement and the legacy is being preserved in classrooms. 

​​“My hope is that public schools will encourage their students to study the Chicano movement and engage with their local histories. ​Schools can even show the documentary as a teaching resource,” said Dr. Dustin Knepp, department chair, Modern Languages and Literatures. 

Rodríguez’s parents are fieldworkers, who made great sacrifices to come to the United States. 

“This project represents hard work that impacts other people who have the same walks of life or who maybe just want to learn something new,” Rodríguez said. 

​​Knepp is eager for his student to share her research with the public. 

​​“There’s no impact if we’re the only ones who engage with that research,” he added.