Yellow background features papel picado and photos from resources featuring Latinx leaders through history, emblazened with the words "Latinx Heritage Month"

Monthly Highlights- September 2023

Monthly Highlights – September 2023

Today marks the start of Latina/o/x/é Heritage Month, which occurs each year from September 15th through October 15th. While most other history or heritage months align with a single calendar month, Latinx Heritage Month is a bit different due to it’s history: in 1968, under President Lyndon Johnson, the United States celebrated its first Hispanic Heritage Week, which required the inclusion of September 15th (nationally celebrated Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) and September 16th (Mexican Independence Day). Twenty years later, legislators decided to expand the observation of Hispanic Heritage to a full month but decided to retain the starting date.

In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, we’ve highlighted various ready-to-use teaching resources, recent historical scholarship, and picture books for young readers that focus on the experiences of people and communities from or descended from Latin American countries. With over half (56.1%) of California’s TK-12 public school students identifying as Hispanic or Latino, we recognize that the need to teach culturally responsive material is important throughout the entire school year. (We also recognize that the terminology used by these communities has a long history, continues to change, and may be adopted by different people in different ways)1 We hope that this list can inspire many future lessons centered around Latinx history and the Latinx experience in the United States.


Featured Teaching Resources:

The collection below scratches the surface of Latinx heritage resources from the entire CHSSP state-wide network. Reach out to a site near you or browse their websites for additional teaching resources, as well as information on professional development opportunities, events, and more!

Separate is Never Equal: Before Linda Brown, There Was Sylvia Mendez

This 4th-grade inquiry set from the CHSSP state office asks students to answer the question: How did the Mendez, et al. vs. Westminster, et al. court case help end segregation in California? Through an exploration of various primary sources, students learn about anti-Mexican sentiment in California in the 20th century and how Sylvia Mendez and her family’s activism helped lead to the desegregation of California schools.

Salvadoreñx Political Activism in the 1980s

This high school Ethnic Studies inquiry set highlights the significant minority community of Salvadorans in Los Angeles in the 1980s and demonstrates how the community continued to be deeply invested in homeland politics despite living in the United States. The investigative question that students will answer in evaluating the primary sources is: In what ways did members of the Salvadoreñx community engage in political activism during the 1980s?

The Mexican Repatriation Program

This 11th-grade primary source set from the UC Irvine History Project discusses the Mexican Repatriation Program, a massive effort by US government officials and some private groups to rid the country of Mexicans and Mexican Americans during the Great Depression (citing federal immigration law, the need to save jobs for “real Americans,” and a desire to reduce welfare rights). Students will consider the question: Why were 1 million Mexican Americans and immigrants forced to move to Mexico during the 1930s?

Struggles for Justice: Mexican Immigration in the 20th Century

This 11th-grade, multi-day lesson plan from the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project focuses on the investigative question: How have opportunities for Mexican immigrants to the US changed during the 20th century? Students analyze how, at different times throughout the 20th century, Mexican immigrants have been both recruited and excluded by the U.S. government. 

Democracy by Participation: A Life in California Politics 

This 12th-grade government inquiry set from the CHSSP state office explores the branches of California state government, using the life and career of Cruz Reynoso– the first Latino Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court– as a window into the structures and process of state government. Students learn about the differences between federal and state governments, as well as the process by which individuals get appointed to public office, through the biography of an influential figure in Latinx history.

Latinx History Biographies

The Latinx History Biographies Set, curated by former CHSSP Marchand Intern Vanessa Madrigal-Lauchland, consists of a Google Doc and a Google Slide. Each profile comes with a brief biographical account, a picture book, and ideas on how teachers might connect the leader to a classroom project or activity. The biographies could be used with elementary, middle, or high school students.

The Chicana/o Movement 

This 11th-grade primary source set from the UC Irvine History Project presents students with context, primary sources, and guiding questions that allow students to understand the development and diversity of the Chicana/o Movement. Students respond to the guiding questions: What were the goals and outcomes of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement in California? How did Chicana activists work to assert their place in the movement? What was the impact of the Chicano Movement?

How was Prop 187 Resisted and Ultimately Defeated? 

This 11th-grade inquiry set from the UCLA History Project focuses on the ways different groups of activists protested against Prop 187, a proposition passed in California in 1994 that aimed to limit access to public services to undocumented immigrants in the state. Through this study of resistance, students learn about Latinx community organizing, resistance to racism and xenophobia, and the rise of several major Latinx leaders in California politics.

Latinx Civil Rights in California

This lesson, from Marissa Ferejohn-Swett at the History and Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz, uses a guided notes structure to expose students to video, text, and mini-lectures about different aspects of Latinx movements for civil rights in California. It is part of their Teaching Latinx History resource series. 


Recent Scholarship:

Ceclila Marquez, Making the Latino South: A History of Racial Reform (August 2023)

Cecilia Márquez guides readers through time and place from Washington, DC, to the deep South, tracing how non-Black Latino people moved through the region’s evolving racial landscape. In considering Latino presence in the South’s schools, its workplaces, its tourist destinations, and more, Márquez tells a challenging story of race-making that defies easy narratives of progressive change and promises to reshape the broader American histories of Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, immigration, work, and culture.

Christian O. Paiz, The Strikers of Coachella: A Rank-and-File History of the UFW Movement (January 2023)

Based on more than 200 hours of original oral history interviews conducted with Coachella Valley residents who participated in the UFW and Chicana/o movements, as well as previously unused oral history collections of Filipino farm workers, bracero workers, and UFW volunteers throughout the United States, this stirring history spans from the 1960s and 1970s through the union's decline in the early 1980s.

Larisa L. Veloz, Even the Women Are Leaving: Migrants Making Mexican America, 1890–1965 (April 2023)

Even the Women Are Leaving explores bidirectional migration across the US-Mexico border from 1890 to 1965 and centers the experiences of Mexican women and families. Highlighting migrant voices and testimonies, Larisa L. Veloz depicts the long history of family and female migration across the border and elucidates the personal experiences of early twentieth-century border crossings, family separations, and reunifications. This book offers a fresh analysis of the ways that female migrants navigated evolving immigration restrictions and constructed binational lives through the eras of the Mexican Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Bracero Program.

Alberto García, Abadoning Their Beloved Land: The Politics of Bracero Migration in Mexico (January 2023)

Abandoning Their Beloved Land offers an essential new history of the Bracero Program, a bilateral initiative that allowed Mexican men to work in the United States as seasonal contract farmworkers from 1942 to 1964. Using national and local archives in Mexico, historian Alberto García uncovers previously unexamined political factors that shaped the direction of the program, including how officials administered the bracero selection process and what motivated campesinos from central states to migrate. 


Picture Books (#KatesBookClub):

Spanish is the Language of My Family by Michael Genhart, illustrated by John Parra.   An intergenerational story of family ties, cultural pride, and spelling bee victory following a young boy who bonds with his beloved abuela over a love of Spanish. As Manolo prepares for his school’s Spanish spelling bee, he asks his grandmother for help with some of the words he doesn’t know how to spell yet. When she studies with him, she tells him how different things were back when she was a girl, when she was only allowed to speak English in school. This news only inspires him to study even harder and make his family proud.

How You Might Use It:  Story about the joy of sharing cultural heritage inspired by generations of Latino people who were punished for speaking Spanish in school. Extensive backmatter includes details about the history of Spanish suppression in US schools and information about the Spanish alphabet. Could also be paired with How Do You Spell Unfair: Macnolia Cox and the National Spelling Bee and Stacey's Extraordinary Words. An interesting history of the Blackwell School in Texas can be found here. Saving the school where kids were paddled for speaking Spanish | The California-Mexico Studies Center, Inc.

All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato.  Written from a young boy's perspective, a boy and his parents drive to the city of Havana, Cuba, in their old family car. Along the way, they experience the sights and sounds of the streets--neighbors talking, musicians performing, and beautiful, colorful cars putt-putting and bumpety-bumping along. In the end, though, it's their old car, Cara Cara, that the boy loves best.

How You Might Use It:  Very few engaging picture books showcasing life in Cuba. Terrific backmatter. And don't miss all of the drawings of classic cars on the inside flaps. Students may enjoy this video clip that explains why Cuba's streets are filled with classic cars. Why Cuba’s Streets Are Filled With Classic Cars California author. 

Planting Stories:  The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar.  Beautifully illustrated, this book tells the story of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer. Great way to introduce the power of storytelling to students. Spanish words are nicely interspersed in the text. Includes bibliography and stories by Pura. 

How You Might Use It:  In the library!  See how many books students can find that have been the recipient of the Pura Belpre Award. (For elementary students, the illustrated winners might be best)   Pura Belpré Award | Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

The Notebook Keeper:  A Story of Kindness from the Border by Stephen Briseno, illustrated by Magdalena Mora.  Based on true events, this inspiring story follows a mama and her daughter who are denied entry at the U.S. border, and must find the refugee in charge of “the notebook,” an unofficial ledger of those waiting to cross into the U.S.

How You Might Use It:  Learned so much from this book! Would be great to pair with Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border and My Two Border Towns

  • 1To learn more about terminology adopted by people and communities who are from or have descended from Latin American countries, please check out this comprehensive source: