Varela, one of the few Latino activists to participate in both the black civil rights movement and the Chicano Movement, said the direction of the movement after the march was over was of primary concern. The Chicano movement was a period of activism by Mexican Americans in the late 1960s and early 1970s which focused on the empowerment of that group.
"We were not about developing one charismatic leader to take charge, but instead encouraged many leaders who would be there long after the charismatic leaders were gone," Varela said. "I was in Alabama at the time, and learned that each region in the South was different in how they went about creating their movements."
Blacks and Mexican Americans had long been working together on civil rights causes. The NAACP joined with the League of United Latin American Citizens in the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster case in California, which helped lay the groundwork for Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down segregation in public schools.
Mike Herrera, son of the late Houston civil rights attorney John J. Herrera, said his father wanted to see Latinos organized nationally to press for change, and he was excited by the March on Washington.
"We just didn't have the numbers yet and we were way out here in Texas where no one paid much attention," the younger Herrera said.
Others, like Latino farm workers in California, drew greater inspiration from protests such as the voting rights marches in Selma, Ala., Araiza said, because "those were much more grass-roots oriented and something they could relate to."
Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, co-founders of the United Farm Workers of America, would launch their own marches in California and adopt nonviolent strategies like boycotts and picketing.
King sent Chavez a telegram in 1966, while Chavez was fasting for collective bargaining rights for farmworkers. In the telegram King told Chavez he was moved.
"The plight of your people and ours is so grave," King said, "that we all desperately need the inspiring example and effective leadership you have given."
Associated Press writer Suzanne Gamboa in Washington contributed to this report.
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