Photography lesson

Lesson for the Day: “Remembering the Lives of Influential Latinos”

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Featured Article: “Remembering the Lives of Influential Latinos»By Erica Ackerberg and Amy Padnani

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. How have you celebrated and honored the contributions and achievements of Latinos?

In this lesson, you’ll learn about seven important Latinos from the past – artists, teachers, lawyers, writers, and activists – through their obituaries. (A obituary is someone’s obituary, often published in a newspaper.) Next, you’ll choose someone to learn more about and create a page about them.

Before you learn more about the influential Latinos of the past, check out this four minute video from 2018 of young Latinos talking about identity and belonging. Then answer the following questions:

  • What is the thing that surprised you about the video?

  • What is one thing that you have learned?

  • What is the question you are still asking yourself?

Here are 10 words you might not know in this article:

1. instrumental 2. descent 3. sophistication 4. appreciation 5. forbidden 6. performance 7. ventriloquist 8. acclaimed 9. eminent 10. embargo

What words do you know? What are the novelties for you?

Use this list of words and their definitions on Vocabulary.com to learn what each means and to practice using the words.

A note on “Hispanic” and “Latino”: the article presented uses these two words to designate people coming from a country or a Spanish speaking culture. Please note, however, that not everyone logs in with this language. In one 2019 New York Times Article, Isabelia Herrera wrote: “Many of us are bristling with the persistence of the term ‘Hispanic’, given its connection to Spain and colonization. Those with African and indigenous roots often feel excluded from conversations and celebrations under this label. “

Read the article, above as a slideshow or here in PDF. Then answer the following questions about each person presented:

1. Elizabeth Martínez: Why could Ms. Martínez be considered a influential Latin? The article says she has had issues with her identity. To find out how, read the third paragraph of his obituary:

Half Mexican and half Anglo, she struggled for decades with her identity. As a young professional in Manhattan, her name was Liz Sutherland, taking her mother’s Scottish middle name as her last name and sometimes masquerading as Anglo.

Have you ever experienced a similar struggle or known others who have experienced it?

2. Patricia Quintana: How did Ms. Quintana fight stereotypes through her work as a chef and writer? Have you ever heard people make stereotypical comments about a food based on its country of origin? Why do you think this is happening?

3. Frank Torres: Mr. Torres fought for Hispanics representation in the legal profession. Why can representation be important? What is your dream career? Do you see people who are like you in this profession?

4. Elena Verdugo: Why was it significant that Ms. Verdugo was playing the role of nurse on television?

5. Cepillin: Why was Cepillín famous in Latin America?

6. Sophie Rivera: Here is a photograph taken by Ms. Rivera. What do you notice ? What do you wonder? Why do you think Ms. Rivera’s photographs were considered important?

seven. Albor Ruiz: What was the purpose of Mr. Ruiz’s activism? Read this excerpt from his poem “Por Si Muero Mañana” (“In Case I Die Tomorrow”):

Volver al suelo, tierra cubana
Extranjero soy y ella me lama
Sepan todos that Cuba demanded from me
Por si muero manana

As translated, it reads as follows:

Return to the land, Cuban land
I am a foreigner and she calls me.
Everyone knows that Cuba is asking for me.
In case I die tomorrow.

How do you feel reading this excerpt? What do you think is the message?

Choose one of the people in the slideshow whose life interested you. Then click on the link in his slide to read at least the first three paragraphs of the New York Times obituary. In your own words, why do you think The Times considers this person to be an “influential Latino”? What more would you like to know about him?

If you have more time, search for the person’s name online and find an additional resource – a video, photograph, or article – about them. You might find a video interview with that person, another article about their life, or some of the person’s work or writing.

Use what you find to create a page – a visual and textual summary – of that person’s life. You can start with a blank sheet of paper or use a model. Here’s what you need to include:

  • The person’s name, date of birth and date of death.

  • A photograph or drawing of the person.

  • An image or symbol to represent how influential or important he or she has been.

  • A quote from the person.

You can add more images, colors and words to your one page page to make it interesting for your audience. Then share your creation with your classmates.

Another option? Try an obituary mixed media collage.


Want more lessons of the day? You can find them all here.


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