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.
Eva Sanchis, CLACS Alum
Eva Sanchis graduated from the CLACS joint journalism M.A. program in 2003. At CLACS, she focused her research on media portrayals of Latino communities, and overall media coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean. Since then, she continues to focus on these issues, and has published her work extensively, She recently relocated to London, where she works for the international NGO REDRESS. Here’s more about Eva, her time at CLACS, and her current work.
Q. What did you focus your research on at CLACS?
A. While completing my joint master’s program in Journalism and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, I had the opportunity to intern with two CNN primetime shows: American Morning with Paula Zahn and Greenfield at Large. I also began working as a full-time reporter for El Diario-La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, where I covered the Hispanic and Latin American and Spanish Caribbean communities in New York. My thesis at CLACS was partly based on these experiences. It examined mainstream media portrayals of those communities in the United States as well as U.S. media coverage of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Q. Is there any connection between your current work and your research at CLACS?
A. Yes, since I completed my M.A. in 2003, my journalistic career has been devoted to writing about Hispanic and Latin American and Spanish Caribbean communities. An ongoing concern within my work has been to combat distorted perceptions of these communities in the U.S. mainstream media. After NYU, I became the Metro and National News editor at the New York-based El Diario-La Prensa, the U.S.’s second largest Hispanic newspaper. As editor, I supervised coverage of local and national news, and major international stories such as the 2008 US presidential election, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the earthquake in Chile. Prior to being an editor, I was the New York City Hall Bureau chief for El Diario, and I also reported special coverage from Latin America as an IRP Johns Hopkins’ fellow. I have written for El Diario and other publications such as the World Policy Journal, the Progressive magazine, and the Financial Times magazine. I was also an adjunct professor at CLACS, where I taught the course “Covering Latino Stories in the United States.” Since I relocated to London in 2010, I have continued writing as a freelancer about these communities from Europe.