Friends, internet QVO-Radio/QVO-Magazine published this article late summer 2005 with a bucket of historical pics. So many that my name and some of the narrative got lost in that plethora of Chicano imagery. It’s still online at http://www.qvoradio.com/Frank_Lechuga.html . But if you just want to get to the meat of the narrative and savor my story, here it is . . .
A Chicano’s Perspective on the Summer of Love, 1967
Reflections of an Elder and Survivor of the Counterculture
When I was in Monterey, California last year, attending my second daughter’s wedding reception I had the opportunity to look back to when I first drove my lowered ‘59 Chevy Impala from L.A. to San Francisco up the Pacific Coast Highway, through El Gran Sur, giving rides to hitchhiking hippies. I had just completed my freshman year at what was then San Fernando Valley State College and already had some activist experience under my belt through the campus chapter of U.M.A.S., (United Mexican American Students-the predecessor to M.E.Ch.A.) mostly picketing on behalf la Huelga.
It was the summer of 1968 and my destination was Haight-Ashbury and San Francisco. I did not know it then that the Summer of Love had already come and gone, and that the Haight-Ashbury scene was dead. I did not know that I was being drawn to an unprecedented wave of cultural and social change. I was being drawn to the counterculture. Some would call it a renaissance. Conservatives thought communists and pinkos had America under siege. The culture wars had started.
In the spring of 1969, I took a trip to Denver, Colorado with some homeboys from San Fernando, California. We went to attend the First National Chicano Liberation Youth Conference.
What is the connection between these two journeys other than that they were undertaken by the same young vato seeking meaning, purpose and adventure? Well, to see the connection you need to see the big picture of what America was like for Chicanos . . . Latinos if you will . . . before the 1967 Summer of Love. (Continued in Part Two).