For Marin, fighting for Chicano art's rightful place was not unlike standing his ground as a child against schoolyard taunts. Richard Anthony Marin was 10 when his family moved from South-Central Los Angeles to the Valley suburbs of Granada Hills. One day, while waiting to play volleyball, one of his new white classmates called out, "Hey, Blackie, get to the back of the line."
"I just hit him as hard as I could," recalls the actor and comedian, a second-generation Mexican American and son of a LAPD officer. "I was a little kid, but I wasn't afraid of nobody."
Marin, 61, says he got into fights almost daily over racial slurs until he transferred to a Catholic school and the name-calling stopped. Instead of cracking skulls he started cracking open books, pushed by an intellectual rivalry with his cousins back in Los Angeles. They quizzed one another in Latin and competed to prove who was smarter.
Marin nurtured his own art appreciation by poring over art books in the library, studying the masters of classical painting. Those boyhood traits -- his love of art and his fighting spirit -- would serve him well later as a champion of Chicano art.