WOW Dozen: Biographies of Latin American and Latinx Activists, Politicians and Freedom Fighters

By Janine M. Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Latin American and Latinx people have a long history of fighting to make their world a better place. In the face of oppression, discrimination, or inequality leaders have emerged to work for change across generations. Sometimes they do so by working within the system as a political or military leader but sometimes they seek change by working outside the system to disrupt institutionalized injustice.

This collection contains 12 picturebook biographies of Latinx and Latin American activists, politicians, and freedom fighters working for political freedom, better working conditions, environmental justice and more. Some of these people are beloved by all, while others have controversial histories. While the causes, movements, and actions vary, each biography depicts someone passionate about their cause and focused on improving their community. Continue reading

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MTYT: Soldier for Equality

By Seemi Aziz, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and Janelle B. Mathis, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

This third week continues a focus on displacement but as it is found in picturebooks. In particular, this week uses a historical context in emphasizing the sociohistorical nature of this issue.

This story is about José de la Luz Sáenz (Luz) who believed in fighting for what was right. Luz’s life was permanently displaced due to his heritage. Even though he was born in the United States, Luz faced prejudice because of his Mexican heritage. Resolute in helping his people, even in the face of discrimination, he taught English to children and adults… children during the day and adults in the evenings. As World War I broke out, Luz joined the army. He had the ability to learn languages and that ability made him an invaluable member of the Intelligence Office especially during war. Luz discovered that prejudice does not end even if you serve your country during war. Even though he was asked by superiors for his translating abilities he didn’t receive credit for his contributions. After returning to his Texas home, he joined with other Mexican American veterans to create the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which presently is the largest and oldest Latinx civil rights organization and continued to teach English to his people so that language does not become a barrier and they should not be discriminated against. The author uses his typical illustration style and Luz’s diary entries to tell the story of a Mexican American war hero and his fight against prejudice and for equality for his fellow

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