“What a woman may do if only she dares, and dares to do greatly.” - Loreta Velazquez
Rebel: Loreta Velazquez Civil War Soldier and Spy, the true story of Loreta Velazquez, Confederate soldier turned Union Spy.
Shrouded in mystery and long the subject of debate, the amazing story of Loreta Velazquez, confederate Soldier turned Union Spy, is one of the Civil War’s most gripping forgotten narratives. While the U.S. military may have recently lifted the ban on women in combat, Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban immigrant from New Orleans, was fighting in battle 150 years ago – one of an estimated 1000 women who secretly served as soldiers during the American Civil War. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous she has been virtually erased from history? Directed by María Agui Carter, REBEL is the story of a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory.
"Ruben believed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You and I know that freedom of speech is limited. You can say anything you want as long as you don't step on some bigshot's toes."
- Phil Montez Friend/U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, is an investigative look at the life and mysterious death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar. At the heart of the story is Salazar's transformation from a mainstream, establishment reporter to primary chronicler and supporter of the Chicano movement of the late 1960s. Killed under mysterious circumstances by a law enforcement officer in 1970, Salazar became an instant martyr to Latinos - many of whom had criticized his reporting during his lifetime. Adding to the Salazar mystique is that the details of how he was killed have been obscured in the ensuing four decades since his death.
"They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality." - Frida Kahlo
The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo is an intimate biography of a woman who gracefully balanced a private life of illness and pain against a public persona that was flamboyant, irreverent, and world-renowned. Kahlo was an eyewitness to a unique pairing of revolution and renaissance that defined the times in which she lived.
In this lesson plan, students will consider what makes art political, debate the relevance of the term "political art" to Frida Kahlo’s work, and create their own self-portraits using the style of Frida Kahlo as inspiration.
"It doesn't matter if we reached the tree and picked the fruit, what matters is having walked toward it."
- Parayam Desai, Gandhi's disciple
EL POETA tells the heartbreaking and inspiring story of renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who ignited mass protests and an ongoing international movement after the brutal killing of his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco — collateral damage in a drug war that has left more than 100,000 dead or missing since 2006.
After his son’s death in 2011, Sicilia called on the Mexican people to protest, bringing more than 100,000 people to the capital demanding that the government address the devastating impact of the militarized drug war. The movement, which embraced the principles of nonviolent action, launched peace caravans throughout Mexico and then crossed the border to the United States, urging American citizens and lawmakers to acknowledge that America’s appetite for drugs (the U.S. makes up 90 percent of the market for Mexican drugs) and loose gun laws have fueled the ongoing war.
EL POETA transforms the hard news story of drugs, murder and corruption into a deeply personal examination of the impact of the ultimate loss on the human psyche – as well as the power of protest and the courage of conviction to inspire positive change.
Description adapted from: VOCES PBS and New PBS Documentary 'El Poeta' Screening & Discussion At Logan Heights Library
"The highest, the most logical, the purest form of painting is the mural. It is, too, the most disinterested form, for it cannot be made a matter of private gain: it cannot be hidden away for the benefit of a certain privileged few. It is for the people. It is for all."
- José Clemente Orozco
José Clemente Orozco was one of the primary artistic innovators of the twentieth century. Along with his fellow Mexican muralists, he revived the fresco tradition. Unlike Italian Renaissance frescos, which celebrated a unified vision of the world and humanity’s place within it, Orozco’s frescos express a modernist sensibility that questions and deconstructs. He forged an original and remarkable synthesis in monumental murals that are imbued with beauty, irony and a critical spirit.
"People went to the theater to see Elizabeth Taylor, and what they got was an unrelenting feminist message and a message for social justice."
- M. G. Lord, Writer
In the summer of 1955, Hollywood movie crews rolled into the small, West Texas town of Marfa to film, Giant, based on Edna Ferber’s best-selling but controversial novel. Children of Giant illustrates how Edith Ferber’s personal experience of discrimination, stemming from her intersecting identities as a Jewish woman, and her collaborative research into the lives and experiences of Mexican-Americans and Anglo-Americans in Texas, influenced her development of complex characters such as Juana and Leslie. It also reveals the Intersectionality of discrimination behind the lens through the experiences of the citizens of Marfa as well as the actor Elsa Cardenas, who played Juana.
"They were looking to make me dark and a little bit more Mexican. The way they thought Mexicans were."
- Elsa Cardenas (actor who portrayed ‘Juana’ in Giant)
Based on the controversial Edna Ferber novel of the same name, Giant did not shy from the strong social issues experienced throughout post-WWII America—it brought to the screen an unflinching look at racism, early feminism, and class divisions—daring themes for movie audiences at the time. In this lesson, students will learn about the social and cultural tensions in the story and on the production of the film as discussed in the documentary Children of Giant. Through the learning activities, they will examine the ongoing social impact of stereotypes in film and media and analyze how George Stevens and the makers of Giant both reinforced and attempted to subvert common and pernicious stereotypes of race, class, and gender in 1950’s America.
“I think it’s a very important part of history; you cannot deny history. That would be denying who we are and what the United States is.”
- Olivia Roman, Former Blackwell School student and Marfa resident
In the summer of 1955, Hollywood movie crews rolled into the small, West Texas town of Marfa to film Giant based on Edna Ferber’s best-selling but controversial novel. Like Ferber’s book, director, George Stevens’ film portrayed critical social issues that were rarely addressed in mainstream movies, including racial prejudice, segregation, sexism, and the plight of the working poor.
“I think…without the women, there would be no Revolution.”
— Elena Poniatowska
Women constitute half of the world’s population yet their contributions to major social, cultural and political events are often overlooked, misunderstood, misrepresented, or undocumented. In this lesson, students will discover why women’s participation was crucial to the Mexican Revolution, and how women’s ability to contribute to society changed during the revolutionary period. Through the film The Storm That Swept Mexico and multimedia extensions, students will explore how gender shapes our understanding of history and continues to impact expectations and opportunities for individuals in the present.
“Their work doesn’t remain on the canvas, it goes much further than that. They try to envision a new reality.”
— Laura Matute Gonzalez (Art Historian)
Following the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican government supported the development of a new school of art to break with the dominance of the European tradition. This new movement sought to create a “real” Mexican art that would strengthen and reaffirm Mexican identity and the values of the Revolution. The Mexican Muralist movement was born as a means to provide a visual narrative of the post-Revolutionary vision of Mexican history and was driven by the ideal that art should be “by the public, for the public.” In this lesson, students will examine the use of art as historical narrative and social commentary, and create a mural inspired by the Mexican Muralist movement.
“The oppression was tremendous. That’s why those of us who joined the Revolution in defense of the nation didn’t do it out of bravery or pride but out of necessity.”
— Galo Pacheco Valle (Zapatista Veteran)
When does working for social change become revolution? In this lesson, students will study key figures from the Mexican Revolution, including Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, and discuss what motivated them to take action and the broad range of ways that individuals stand up for their principles and beliefs. Using excerpts from the film The Storm that Swept Mexico as a guide, students will also consider how contemporary revolutionaries are harnessing the power of digital media to achieve their goals and will develop and implement their own strategies to work for social change.
"I joined the army and I wanted to be all I can be. I guess at that time the government saw us and said 'hey, we can use them in Nam.'”
- Juan Farias, Vietnam Veteran and visual artist
Throughout the Vietnam War, Latino and Hispanic soldiers were documented as “White” and as a result, their contributions, experiences, and stories have been underrepresented. Although detailed data about Latino service in the Vietnam War is still being compiled, it has been established that Latino soldiers were over-represented in both the enlisted population and combat casualties. For example, Mexican Americans accounted for approximately 20% of the U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War although they made up only 10% of the country’s population at the time.
Through the intimate interviews with Veterans in in the film, As Long As I Remember: American Veteranos, students will consider the forces that shape our understanding of historic events and eras, understand the factors that motivated such a large percentage of Latino servicemen to enlist in the Vietnam War.
"You’re grown up on the idea that you’re not good enough. You have to have different qualifications in order to get this American Dream..."
- Juan Farias, Vietnam Veteran and visual artist
Through this lesson and the veteran interviews in AS LONG AS I REMEMBER: AMERICAN VETERANOS, students will gain a better understanding of the specific experiences of Latino/Hispanic soldiers and their struggle to serve their country while honoring their community, culture, and commitment to social justice. Students will also explore the variety of opportunities for individuals and groups to make positive contributions and think about how they can best fulfill their responsibility as engaged members of the American community.
“With PTSD, you kind of go right back to that point in time and live there for a while. So the writing kind of takes him there, but then it brings him back out.”
- Linda Rodriguez, wife of Vietnam Veteran and author, Michael Rodriguez
Through this lesson, students will understand what PTSD is and about its prevalence in the general population, especially among combat veterans. They will also discuss how the specific social and political experiences of Latino veterans interviewed in AS LONG AS I REMEMBER: AMERICAN VETERANOS contributed to their experience of PTSD, and the benefit of art-based therapy in Vietnam Veterans lives and the lives of veterans of modern warfare.