September 15 of each year marks the beginning of Hispanic American Heritage Month—a time to deepen our attention to the histories, experiences, and brilliance of Hispanic American people and communities. If you’re interested in developing a more expansive understanding of the histories and experiences that connect to Hispanic American heritage, check out the following book suggestions, recommended by Facing History staff. These titles cover a wide range of themes including Latinx youth agency in schools; the work of centering Latinx students and their needs in K-12 education; the history of the US-Mexico border; Latinx environmental justice movements; and one Puerto Rican-Jewish woman’s journey finding her voice in American society.
Below are broad categories to help you sift through these selections and words from each publisher about what you will find inside each title.
“Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by US imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of US authorities vested in protecting the Díaz regime.
Long ignored by textbooks, the magonistas threatened to undo the rise of Anglo-American power, on both sides of the border, and inspired a revolution that gave birth to the Mexican-American population, making the magonistas’ story integral to modern American life.” -W. W. Norton & Company
“Celebrate 30 influential Latinas/Latinos/Latinxs in US history with Nuestra América, a fully-illustrated anthology from the Smithsonian Latino Center.
The stories in this book cover each figure's cultural background, childhood, and the challenges and opportunities they met in pursuit of their goals. A glossary of terms and discussion question-filled reading guide, created by the Smithsonian Latino Center, encourages further research and exploration. This book is a must-have for teachers looking to create a more inclusive curriculum, Latina/o/x youth who need to see themselves represented as an important part of the American story, and all parents who want their kids to have a better understanding of American history." -Running Press Kids
“Between 1910 and 1920, thousands of Mexican Americans and Mexican nationals were killed along the Texas border. Despite a 1919 investigation of the state-sanctioned violence, no one in authority was ever held responsible. Reverberations of Racial Violence gathers fourteen essays on this dark chapter in American history. Contributors explore the impact of civil rights advocates such as José Tomás Canales, the sole Mexican-American representative in the Texas State Legislature between 1905 and 1921. The investigation he spearheaded emerges as a historical touchstone, one in which witnesses testified in detail to the extrajudicial killings carried out by state agents. Other chapters situate anti-Mexican racism in the context of the era's rampant and more fully documented violence against African Americans. Taken together, the essays provide an opportunity to move beyond the more standard Black-white paradigm in reflecting on the broad history of American nation-making, the nation’s rampant racial violence, and civil rights activism.” -University of Texas Press
“On September 9, 1921 a tropical depression stalled just north of San Antonio and within hours overwhelmed its winding network of creeks and rivers. Floodwaters ripped through the city’s Latino West Side neighborhoods, killing more than eighty people. Meanwhile a wall of water crashed into the central business district on the city’s North Side, wreaking considerable damage. The city’s response to this disaster shaped its environmental policies for the next fifty years, carving new channels of power.
West Side Rising is the first book focused squarely on San Antonio’s enduring relationship to floods, which have had severe consequences for its communities of color in particular. Examining environmental, social, and political histories, Char Miller demonstrates that disasters can expose systems of racism, injustice, and erasure and, over time, can impel activists to dismantle these inequities. He draws clear lines between the environmental injustices embedded in San Antonio’s long history and the emergence of grassroots organizations that combated the devastating impact floods could have on the West Side.” -Maverick Books
“A timely and groundbreaking argument that all Americans must grapple with Latinos’ dynamic racial identity—because it impacts everything we think we know about race in America. Latinos have long influenced everything from electoral politics to popular culture, yet many people instinctively regard them as recent immigrants rather than a longstanding racial group. In Inventing Latinos, Laura Gómez, a leading expert on race, law, and society, illuminates the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making of Latino identity that has spanned centuries, leaving a permanent imprint on how race operates in the United States today.
In this audacious effort to reframe the often-confused and misrepresented discourse over the Latinx generation‚ Gómez provides essential context for today’s most pressing political and public debates—representation‚ voice‚ interpretation‚ and power—giving all of us a brilliant framework to engage cultural controversies‚ elections‚ current events‚ and more.” -The New Press
“The Succeeders illustrates how ideological struggles over who belongs in this country, who is valuable, and who is an American are worked out by young people through their ordinary acts of striving in school and caring for friends and family. Through examining the experiences of everyday Latino high school students—some undocumented, some citizens, and some from families with mixed immigration status—Flores traces how these youth, in the college-access program Succeeders, leverage educational success toward national belonging for themselves and their families, friends, and communities.” -University of California Press
“Maria Hinojosa shares her intimate experience growing up Mexican American on the south side of Chicago and documenting the existential wasteland of immigration detention camps for news outlets that often challenged her work. In these pages, she offers a personal and eye-opening account of how the rhetoric around immigration has not only long informed American attitudes toward outsiders, but also enabled willful negligence and profiteering at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable populations—charging us with the broken system we have today.
This honest and heartrending memoir paints a vivid portrait of how we got here and what it means to be a survivor, a feminist, a citizen, and a journalist who owns her voice while striving for the truth. Once I Was You is an urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all. Also available in Spanish as Una vez fui tú.” -Atria Books
“Born in Philadelphia to a Jewish father and an enigmatic Puerto Rican mother, Quiara Alegría Hudes had a love-and-trouble-filled upbringing, haunted by the unspoken, untold family secrets of the barrio. In the face of real-world wounds, the powerful, Orisha-like women of her family possessed a strength, joy, and sensuality that left a young Quiara awe-struck. She vowed to tell their stories. But confronted by a world that treated her like an outsider, Quiara knew she must find a new language, one which reflected the multiple cultures that raised this Puerto Rican child of North Philly. Written and spoken, English and Spanish, sacred and profane—as her search for a way to share her family’s story deepened, an artist emerged, ready to speak her truth. An inspired exploration of home, family and memory, My Broken Language is the story of a sharp-eyed observer who finds her voice and learns to boldly tell the stories that only she can tell.” -William Collins
“In this collection of poems, written during and immediately after two years on the road as United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera reports back on his travels through contemporary America. Poems written in the heat of witness, and later, in quiet moments of reflection, coalesce into an urgent, trenchant, and yet hope-filled portrait. The struggle and pain of those pushed to the edges, the shootings and assaults and injustices of our streets, the lethal border game that separates and divides, and then: a shift of register, a leap for peace and a view onto the possibility of unity.
Every Day We Get More Illegal is a jolt to the conscience—filled with the multiple powers of the many voices and many textures of every day in America.” -City Lights Publishers
“Blanco digs deep into the very marrow of our nation through poems that interrogate our past and present, grieve our injustices, and note our flaws, but also remember to celebrate our ideals and cling to our hopes. Charged with the utopian idea that no single narrative is more important than another, this book asserts that America could and ought someday to be a country where all narratives converge into one, a country we can all be proud to love and where we can all truly thrive.
The poems form a mosaic of seemingly varied topics: the Pulse nightclub massacre; an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba; the forced exile of 8,500 Navajos in 1868; a lynching in Alabama; the arrival of a young Chinese woman at Angel Island in 1938; the incarceration of a gifted writer; and the poet’s abiding love for his partner, who he is finally allowed to wed as a gay man.” -Beacon Press
Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Eds. Margaret Cantú-Sánchez, Candace de León-Zepeda, and Norma Elia Cantú
“Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa—theorist, Chicana, feminist—famously called on scholars to do work that matters. Scholars and activists alike have encountered and expanded on these pathbreaking theories and concepts first introduced by Anzaldúa in Borderlands/La frontera and other texts. Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa is a pragmatic and inspiring offering on how to apply Anzaldúa’s ideas to the classroom and in the community rather than simply discussing them as theory. The book gathers 19 essays by scholars, activists, teachers, and professors who share their firsthand use of Anzaldúa’s theories in their classrooms and community environments.
The collection is divided into three main parts, according to the ways the text has been used: “Curriculum Design,” “Pedagogy and Praxis,” and “Decolonizing Pedagogies.” As a pedagogical text, Teaching Gloria E. Anzaldúa also offers practical advice in the form of lesson plans, activities, and other suggested resources for the classroom.” -University of Arizona Press
“The year 2011 marked the first time in US history where more nonwhite babies were born than white babies. Academic year 2014-15 marked the first year that K-12 public school enrollment became predominantly nonwhite. Among the five largest school districts, Latinos represent the predominant group. It’s all about a stemming population shift, not immigration, as more Anglo-Americans are dying than those replaced by births. Meanwhile, our public schools are in trouble, where ‘normalized failure’ has become the new norm and international achievement has reached new lows. In this mix, Latinos are 1-in-3 newborns. As the future of America is now ‘inextricably linked’ to the fate of these children, our educational system must be more responsive or the nation is imperiled. For this book, Abdín Noboa-Ríos interviewed 112 prominent educators nationwide, including some of the best Hispanic educators and thought leaders to search for answers to America’s educational challenges.” -International Academic Publishers