Lira, a Mexican American activist, has long embraced the values of la causa, the late 1960s movement for farmworkers’ civil rights. Utilizing music, theater, and protest, Lira has brought awareness to la causa for generations. Now, Lira is reigniting the themes that originally drove the Chicano Power Movement throughout the Southwest with ‘Songs of Struggle & Hope,’ out June 24.
Lira went on to cofound El Teatro Campesino, a farmworker theater group, with brothers Luis and Daniel Valdez of Zoot Suit fame, in 1965. El Teatro Campesino used theater and music to express the frustrations of the oppressed migrant farmworker population. Lira composed songs inclusive of acoustic guitar melodies, and lyrics addressing the Chicano demand for equality. Quickly, his songs became a regular part of many nonviolent political gatherings and protests at the time. Lira’s music “steeled the resilience of these aggrieved communities and provided a means to celebrate culture, promote social and political consciousness, and preserve and instill dignity” (Rodríguez).