Burton Moore. Edited by Roberto Cabello-Argandoña and Yasmeen Namazie.The Great Latino Revolt, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and the Birth of the Latino Insurrection. ISBN 978-1482773781. $14.95.
This is a joint publication of Floricanto Press and Berkeley Press. Buffalo, as he was known in the barrios of Los Angeles among street people, at the height of the riots in in the late 1960’s and 7O’s, was the epitome of the Movimiento. He was smart, rebellious, unpredictable, occasionally high on drugs, but terrifyingly honest to himself and the world. This is the story of the rage and fury that swept LA during the gestation of the Movimiento Chicano and of the remarkable life of Oscar Zeta Acosta, a radical civil-rights lawyer who defended Chicano activists, won new rights for Latinos, and challenged the LA estab1ishment. Burton Moore, a journalist and writer who worked with Attorney Acosta, witnessed many of the events that swept Los Angeles into a new age. He recounts the famous school walk-outs, the confrontations with the Catholic Church, the arson at the Biltmore Hotel, the rebellion in the streets, the Chicano protest at UCLA, and the Moratorium Riot, which ended with the untimely death of Ruben Salazar. These events are pictured against a background of life in East Los Angeles a generation ago. It is written as a tribute to that generation and to the young men and women who were inspired by the Movimiento. The author covers the legal skirmishes orchestrated by Oscar Acosta following the riots of the late 1960’s—to free vatos y carnales from incarceration and police brutality—and provides an intimate biography replete with little known facts of his life from his youth to his untimely and mysterious death. Acosta emerges as a towering leader capable of inspiring and rallying the community in the streets, mesmerizing the TV audiences, and defending effectively the rioters in court. A restless man who was in conflict with himself, and able in the end to endure his own nightmares. Burton Moore was a renowned journalist, and social critic on the tradition of Oscar Lewis and Michael Harrington. Upon nearing the completion of this hook, he, and his family, were unexpectedly informed of his impending death of cancer. Burton Moore bravely carried on this important testimony of social injustice in the barrios of L.A. He had set to accomplish it, most elegantly. A seemingly simple, but elusive and daunting task of explaining the events and historical roots at play on a series of riots in the Mexican American community in the decades of 1970s and 1980s through the tale of the life of one of the most tenacious leaders of those volatile times, Oscar Zeta Acosta.
Burton Moore has legated to his family, friends, and the Latino community in general, and the Mexican American community, in particular, which he so much loved, a clear and invaluable insight that social justice is a conditio sine qua non for social peace. Undoubtedly, he embarked on warning America that disparities of wealth, education, and opportunities, and racism will inevitably lead to periodic social disruptions. Burton Moore shall not be a vox clamantis in desertus, a lonely voice in the desert, but an unequivocal J’accuse, a historical indictment to an unjust society. He regarded nothing which concerned man as alien to his interests: homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto. We shall keep his voice alive for years to come, and as new generations of Americans emerge, they shall learn of his message of social peace and justice. Burton Moore you shall be missed Resquiscat In Pacem, amicus noster. Roberto Cabello-Argandoña.