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An Unlikely Host: The Church of the Epiphany and the Chicana/o Movement In Los Angeles

  • Author(s): Flores, David J.
  • Advisor(s): Chao Romero, Robert
  • et al.

Chicanx studies has long overlooked a spiritually centered social movement history. Scholarship on the Chicana/o movement has been predominately studied through a secular lens, all but ignoring the communities longstanding religious values. Yet, unbeknownst to most, religion played a critical role in the late 1960s Mexican American civil rights movement. Using rich oral histories and archival data, this research documents the radical theological praxis and faith politics of the Episcopalian Church of the Epiphany during the late 1960s Chicana/o movement in Los Angeles. This little Episcopalian church in the Lincoln Heights barrio of East Los Angeles became the center of political activity during the Chicana/o movement; it was an organizing hub for Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and the United Farm Workers, it was where the famous Chicana/o high school Blowouts were planned, where the Brown Berets were founded, and where La Raza newspaper, one of the principal underground newspapers of Chicana/o history was found and printed, and the church also played an important role in the Chicana/o Moratorium against the war in Vietnam. All of these organizations have been documented as instrumental to the success of the social-political goals of the Chicana/o movement, yet, because of Chicanx Studies’ reluctance to accept the contributions of religion to its history, very little is said about the role of the Church of the Epiphany. Using Mario Garcia’s faith politics, Robert Chao Romero’s Brown Church, and Gaye Theresa Johnson’s spatial entitlement theoretical concepts, I argue that the Church of the Epiphany was one the most, if not the most, important organizations during the Chicana/o movement in Los Angeles.

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