Bobby Lee Verdugo passing and other things we missed

by Mike McClure

…so the other day I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bobby Lee Verdugo. Bobby was one of the leaders of the High School walk outs in 1968. For the movie buffs, Efren Ramirez played him in the 2006 HBO movie “Walk Out”.

Though I didn’t know Bobby Lee Verdugo that well, I did have a chance to sit on some boards with some of the other leaders. Carlos Montez and I were on the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council together and I worked on several committees with Victoria Castro who appointed me to the original Beyond The Bell B.O.D. when she was on the school board and we revamped the LAUSD after-school programs in the 90’s. Bobby’s treatment by school officials for speaking Spanish was one of the key sparks that ignited the walk out.

Although corporal punishment had pretty much been abandoned in public school in the majority population, spanking, swats or paddling was still allowed, with parental approval in private schools. Some Catholic schools continued to use the practice well into the 60’s but virtually no public schools condoned it except it was still used in schools that were in Hispanic neighborhoods to punish students who spoke Spanish.

Bobby Lee Verdugo being publicly humiliated and beat for speaking Spanish was disgraceful and it galvanized the students and some of the faculty (notably Sal Castro) into action.

The Walk Outs drew public notice when the local news showed police beating and arresting young students who were mostly peacefully protesting and it led to a greater emergence of pride and awareness.

Thank you Bobby Lee Verdugo.

…With the stay at home directives still in place there have been a lot of things missing like Cinco de Mayo! How many of you broke “social distance” guidelines for Cinco de Mayo?

Don’t worry, I think the Governor was so mad at Huntington Beach that he forgot to check up on you. Anyhow I was able to get in on our Assemblywoman Blanca E. Rubio’s Telephone Town Hall Friday for her COVID-19 updates and it looks like we are seeing some positive numbers and there should be an end coming soon to these restrictions. Probably slower than some of you would like but deliberate and measured for the safety of all of us.

Stay Safe!