Manuel Ruben Delgado (born December 28, 1940) is a second generation Mexican American and Chicano activist. He was born and raised in San Bernardino, CA in the Mexican barrio known as Mt. Vernon. After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, he went on to earn an Associate of Arts degree in 1967 from San Bernardino Valley College. In 1970, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and, in 1977, a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Manuel transferred to UC Berkeley in 1968. The same year he and Chicano student Ysidro Macias formed the Mexican American Student Confederation on the UC Campus and began organizing Chicano students. The Mexican American Student Confederation began getting Chicanos who were underrepresented in various programs like the EOP and financial aid programs to become part these programs which forced UC Berkeley to include Chicanos and people of color to be part programs which had previously excluded students of color.
Manuel Delgado and the Mexican American Student Confederation also began organizing around the Delano Grape Boycott called on by Cesar Chavez.They protested against UC Berkeley for buying grapes at their cafeterias. The Mexican American Student Confederation held rallies and even had a sit-in in the University of California president Charles Hitch's office. Eleven members of the group were arrested, including Manuel Ruben Delgado, but eventually they got the school to stop selling grapes on campus. Delgado also organized protests at Safeway stores in West and East Oakland and Berkeley that sold grapes.
Delgado also became a leader in the Third World Liberation strike at UC Berkeley starting in January of 1969. Chicano, Black, Asian and Native Americans students joined forces to have a Third World College in Berkeley. The Mexican American Student Confederation, the Asian American Political Alliance, the African American Student Union, and Native Americans where the main groups. Ysidro Macias, Manuel Ruben Delgado, Richard Aoki, La Nada Means and Charlie Brown where the main leaders of the strike. The strike lasted three months and several members of the strike were beaten, gassed and arrested, including Manuel Ruben Delgado. Eventually UC Berkeley President Hitch authorized the establishment of the first Ethnic Studies Department on March 7, 1969. (Mayor Jean Quan also participated in this movement as a member of the Asian American Political Alliance.)
Manuel Delgado and several Chicano students organized a group called "Frente Liberacion del Pueblo." They had a house in Berkeley called the "Casa Joaquin Murrieta." Frente began doing work in the Fruitvale District in East Oakland with Chicano youth. They did a lot of Work in Jingletown. Frente started mentoring programs for youth, field trips for youth, and school programs that taught youth about Chicano history and their rights. Frente also taught youth about the situation going on in Vietnam at the time. On May 13, 1970 Frente organized a citywide walkout at Oakland schools. They organized all the Chicano students from Oakland schools including Fremont High, Castlemont High, Oakland High, and even Oakland Tech, to walk out against the Vietnam War and the draft. Many kids were bussed from other schools to the Fairfax Theater on Foothill Blvd where the students watched a documentary about the Vietnam War. The students then marched to the Fruitvale District, had a rally at Sanborn Park (now Josie De La Cruz park), then marched to Downtown Oakland to the Army Induction Center where they held a huge rally. According to some people there were about 1000 or more students shouting "Raza si, Guerra no."
Ruben Manuel Delgado was a big part of the Chicano Movement in UC Berkeley and Oakland. He organized students at Cal and Oakland students and youth. He wrote a book about his experience in Oakland and at UC Berkeley in 2009 called The Last Chicano: A Mexican American Experience.
Links and References
- Manuel Ruben Delgado website