Luis Valdez

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Luis Valdez

Luis Miguel Valdez (born June 26, 1940) is an American playwright, actor, writer and film director.


  • People would call us "dirty Mexicans." I remember going to a movie in Reedly where we weren't allowed to sit in the Anglo section. We were told by the ushers to sit with the rest of the Mexicans, because this section was reserved for whites. Those are things you never forget.
  • We were and still are recreating our own reality. Our vision is that we have been a hard working, courageous people. There have been three prevalent images of the chicano in this country— 1) the pachuco, a violent, urban vato loco; 2) the farmworker, a passive peon, Don Juan-Yaqui brujo type; and 3) el Spanish grandee or Latin lover type.
  • My parents were migrant farm workers who moved between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. I was born in Delano and that's where the ranch was. For my dad, this was the high point of his life. The whole family was very proud of the fact that he had a ranch and we had family events out there. When we lost it at the end of the war it was a tragedy. We were back on the migrant path, and I remember asking my older brother, "What happened? We used to be rich." And he said, "We weren't rich, we just had the ranch and it wasn't even ours." He was older so he was wise to the fact that the Japanese-Americans had been forced out. I realized with a shock and a sense of guilt that we'd taken over somebody else's ranch and they'd been imprisoned in a camp.
  • It was bad enough in 2013, and it's worse now. My approach to political theater is that the way to the mind is through the heart. If you can touch the heart, then people will come to the ideas themselves. The American idea of social equality and human respect has to be constantly defended from generation to generation. What happened to the Japanese is echoed tragically in what's happening to Latinos on the Mexican border. Those are prison camps and in some ways the Trump administration is declaring war on Latin America. It's a struggle, but I'm also an optimist and I know it won't last forever.

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