Froebel: ethnography of an urban school (1974) part 2 by Nicole Marroquin

If I could have anything, it would be to have access to an archive of all of the Spanish-language newspapers that covered local news on the Near West and Lower West Sides in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Thing is, these newspapers have not been collected, and there is no archive of Spanish Language newspapers in Chicago. (trying not to shout.)  I found two issues of El Informador at the Chicago History Museum and I found issues from 6 various newspapers in the Walter Reuther Library's collection of the Chicago UFW Strike Office. There were at least 7 Spanish Language newspapers that covered the 1973 Froebel uprising, according to Bishop, who took note of what reporters were present.

Here is his bibliography, including the newspapers that were on the scene. There's a side to this story I have not read, and it's in these newspapers.  

Bishop observed the students closely and drew this diagram of a 1973, noting that boys rarely initiated a dance, and stayed together throughout most of the evening, which sounds like a middle school dance to me. He reports that there was a female DJ at this dance, and I want to know everything about her! What exactly did she spin? What made the students run out on the floor? What requests were made?   

dance diagram

Froebel: Ethnography of an Urban School (1974) by Nicole Marroquin

Bishop III, Ralph John, (1974) Froebel: Ethnography of an Urban School. Retrieved from Northwestern University 2014. 

If you want to know about Froebel, you should read this dissertation by Ralph Bishop written between 1972-74 for his PhD in anthropology at Northwestern. I got it via interlibrary-loan. It's 285 typed pages including a huge number of photos and several hand drawn diagrams. He diagrams a school dance, breaks down the ethnic groups in fine detail, and documents the complicated lives of students who attended Froebel for one year.  I'm not always fond of his evaluations of the students or his editorials on the quality of teaching or why students are not paying attention (or lighting fires in lockers) but his writing is mostly generous and full of amazing nuggets of information. What is most important to me is that he was at the school on the day of the uprising and made documentation both inside and outside of the school that day. 

A view from outside looking in, and a view from inside the school as riot cops round up the protesters.  (from Bishop, 1974)

A view from outside looking in, and a view from inside the school as riot cops round up the protesters.  (from Bishop, 1974)

Some of the everyday-life photos are lovely and important.  He also documented the car wash fundraiser, which is the same carwash that is in Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family.  It must have been pretty strange to the students to have 2 sets of graduate students documenting them during that carwash. 

Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family by Nicole Marroquin

Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family is a documentary film about a working class Mexican-American family dealing with the stresses of maintaining their cultural heritage in the face of the dominant Anglo society.

This 1973  film by Susan Stechnij provides essential context for anyone interested in Pilsen and the surrounding, Casa Aztlan, schools or the incidents at Froebel, Harrison and the fight for Benito Juarez High School.  At the center is Lola Navarro and her children. (Chuy Garcia and Rudy Lozano Sr. say introduced them to activism. We should all know her name! More on Lola Navarro to come.) Read more about this film and the filmmaker here on the Chicago Film Archive website! 

Stechnij, who was a member of MARCH (Movimiento Artisitico de la Raza Chicano) wrote a masters thesis after completing the film, and it details the community editing process, which took place at the Casa Aztlan.  This is exactly what it sounds like, and if you are interested in community responsive cultural production and collaboration, check it out. 

Stecjnij thesis call number

Stechnij and her partner Santiago Boiton were activists, and Boiton can be seen shouting down members of the Chicago Board of Education in the film. Their names also appear in I found Susan on FB and reached out to her, and she responded!  

With any film editing process, a lot of the footage did not make it into the film, but this film was edited by community consensus, which makes viewing the outtakes even richer. The amazing people at the Chicago Film Archives have preserved AND digitized 90 minutes of the silent outtakes. I presented all of the outtakes for 2 months during my residency at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2017. The outtakes feature Stechnij herself, but there are also important historical events like a UFW protest at A&P on Kedzie, and some sweet moments with Rudy Lozano and Lola Navarro with kids hanging around in front of the Casa Aztlan.  Major thanks to Brian Bielak at CFA for his expertise and patience.