Lunes con Lalo Delgado
Some Not Too Objective Observations on the Chicano Movement and Government Funding
The Movement and OEO
by Abelardo Delgado
This happens to be an area in which I am personally involved in, and have been for the last two years. I started working in Las Cruces, New Mexico for Project HELP and moved to Colorado in June of 1969.
Here with the Colorado Migrant Council, I was Director of the Interstate Itinerant Tutor Program and now hold the position of Executive Director. My own board of directors and the staff can best be used to describe the relationship there is between the movement and poverty programs; in some cases it ranges from nil to almost 100 percent.
There have been some very serious questions posed by movement people as to the role and effectiveness of these programs and some out-right charges of us causing more detriment and dependency than good. Sadly, I must admit some of those charges are valid, and I myself have made these same charges and continue to do so even from within.
The problem is one of divorcement. The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO)* will not have anything to do with the movement and the movement will not have anything to do with the OEO. OEO says it by some of their guidelines and the movement people says it is by refusing to participate in their hostile and open criticism toward OEO. I can only offer some statements as to what I have seen happening in both fields that may be the reason for such division.
The Community Action Program (CAP)* agencies have, by mandate, a one-third representation of the poor and the other two-thirds are the political and resource people who wind up drowning up the voice and wishes of the needy by controlling the funds and staff. In such a situation, I would agree that OEO and the movement people have nothing in common, and if the program is not serving the needs of the Chicano community, it should not be wasting the government money under the pretense of helping the poor.
If the CAP has open doors to the board and the staff, then it can be used as an educational tool for self-determination and can assist in the development of skills needed within the movement, not to mention providing us with a needed mobility. Government funds which do belong to the people, not only by law, but by way of refund or social reparation, must be well used by us.
If movement people are shallow and cannot assist the community in their immediate needs, then usually a need for a program does exist for neither the movement nor OEO can work with a Chicano who is drowning until they pull him out of the water. OEO (the law) and the movement (the objectives) have much in common and should use one another wherever possible. When either of the two is not living up to its own commitment, then the other should rise up to fight and destroy it.
*The OEO (founded in 1965) was the agency that administer Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty programs. It was created by R. Sargent Shriver (Maria Shriver's father). Originally VISTA, Head Start, Job Corps, were under the OEO (later transferred to the Dept. of Education). The OEO was dismantled by Richard Nixon in 1974.
Other parts of this series:
Part IV Goals
from The Chicano Movement: Some Not Too Objective Observations by Abelardo B. Delgado, (Denver: Colorado Migrant Council, 1971), prepared by the Colorado Migrant Council. Published with permission from the Delgado Family. Special thanks for Dolores Delgado. (c) Abelardo Delgado 1971.