Cinco de Mayo is celebrated across the U.S. as a festive Mexican holiday, but it also has deep historical and cultural significance. At a CLACS K-12 Outreach event, author David Hayes Bautista presented his recently published book, El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, which looks at the shifting meanings of Cinco de Mayo in historical perspective. According to the author, Cinco de Mayo’s roots are in U.S. Latino culture, not Mexican, and reflect the aspirations and cultural changes in this community. His work is particularly rooted in California’s Mexican cultural history, and he is working on curriculum that will be made available to the California school system.
The event also featured presentations by Elizabeth Frankel-Rivera, a 3rd grade teacher at PS 333, Manhattan School for Children, and Marisa Cadena Belski, a CLACS M.A. candidate and coordinator of the K-12 Outreach Program. Elizabeth talked about her experience teaching the class, and feeling personally connected to the subject because of her husband’s Mexican nationality. Her curriculum is intended for elementary school students.
Marisa’s curriculum is intended for 6th – 12th grade students, and is more contextual and thematic, and is complemented by online and video resources. “150 years later, there continues to be a lot of confusion about the importance of Cinco de Mayo. By focusing on this era, it opens a space for investigating the ‘parallel histories’ of the U.S. and Mexico,” she says.
As a complement to David Hayes Bautista’s emphasis on California, both Elizabeth and Marisa created materials that put Cinco de Mayo in a national historical context. Learn more about K-12 Outreach initiatives at CLACS and review our extensive online curricular materials.