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LESSON

Understanding the History of Latino Civil Rights

Use these activities to help students gain a deeper understanding of Latino Civil Rights and explore their own personal timelines.
Grade Level

Materials

Teaching Tolerance's Latino Civil Rights Timeline

Create an annotated timeline. 

Break students into small groups, assigning each group one decade from the timeline. Using library resources and the Internet, ask groups to locate eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, magazine articles and/or newspaper accounts about each decade's entries. Depending on school resources, groups can create multimedia presentations based on their findings, or use butcher paper or poster board to create visual displays. Post student findings on the school or classroom website, or as a display during and after Latino Heritage Month.

Create a multiple tier timeline. 

Many of the themes present in the Latino struggle for civil rights -- voting rights, labor rights and access to education, for example -- parallel and compliment the struggles of other groups (African Americans and Asian Americans, for example.) Using library resources and the Internet, research the struggles of other groups and create multiple tier timelines for select decades, or, time allowing, for the 20th century. How are the groups' struggles connected? How are they distinct?

Test your U.S. history book.

Break students into small groups, assigning each group one of the decades from the timeline. Now, ask the groups to compare the timeline to their textbook:

  • Are the decade's entries reflected in the class textbook? If so, are they part of the main text, or are they relegated to a sidebar? If not, what does your textbook focus on during that timeframe? How might that focus relate to, or draw attention away from, the Latino struggle for civil rights?
  • Does your textbook include events in the Latino civil rights struggle not included on Teaching Tolerance's timeline? Describe them.
  • The textbook publisher made conscious decisions about what to include and exclude from your textbook. In making those selections, what messages does the publisher send about the importance of knowing the history of Latino civil rights?

Discuss the groups' findings as a class. As a follow-up activity, students can write letters to the textbook publisher or to the district or state office responsible for textbook selection.