The curriculum unit I have chosen will be incorporated into the United States History II course that is required of all eleventh graders in the city of New Haven. The main focus will be on three Hispanic groups- Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Cubans. These groups have been selected because together they represent the largest majority of Latinos in our school population. Information will be presented demonstrating the struggle these groups participated in. This struggle can be witnessed in various areas, such as the workplace, education, politics, and the social environment. At the same time, it became increasingly evident that Latinos were renewing their pride in their cultural heritage. Historical background information will also be provided for each of the three groups.
When the results of the 1990 census were released, Americans realized how much the nation had changed in the last ten years. Of 249 million people, the percentage listed as white had dropped to 71.3%. African Americans were now 12.1% of the population and the people of Latino origin had grown by about a third, to 9 percent. The percentage of people of Asian descent had almost doubled to 2.9%. These figures help to demonstrate the changing nature of American society. Of course, this changing nature is also reflected in the school population throughout the United States.
In the past, the United States had been thought of as a melting pot; the culture of many different groups were supposed to mix to create one American culture. A new image began to emerge in the 1960’s replacing the idea of a melting pot. Latinos pushed to view America more like a multi-cultural rainbow. In a multi-cultural society at its best, people should not just tolerate differences, but should appreciate and share the strengths of their diversity. All groups still contributed to making one united nation, but these groups wish to be seen as individuals, each keeping much of its special culture. This new image of the United States began to have an effect on the population and the economy of the nation.
On September 7, 1968 President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation designating a week in September as Hispanic-American week. In 1995 a bill was passed creating Hispanic-American month (September 15-October 15). This month included not only the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Mexico on September 6, but also on October 12, Dia de la raza, or Columbus Day which commemorates the first voyage of Columbus to the New World. Students will study the heritage of Latinos. Although Latinos come from many different countries and many cultures, they do share many experiences, as well as the Spanish language.
Sample lessons are provided that demonstrate the struggle for freedom and justice shared by Hispanics. Students will be presented with issues that will help them to develop critical thinking and writing skills. Students will realize that the United States holds a unique position in that we are the product of immigration, and thus, reflect a cultural pluralism. America consists of a multitude of diverse ethnic, racial, and religious groups which share a common American citizenship, a democratic way of life and values which stress the dignity and worth of the individual. Yet, there are genuine differences which divide Americans. It is these differences that influence the way students react to one another. By exploring these differences, myths will be destroyed and stereotypes will be broken.
I expect that the student to relate to such concepts as ethnicity, multiculturalism and diversity by studying how others before them dealt with these issues. The past can, in many instances, demonstrate what was successful and what was not. Many of the problems of the 1970’s were directly related to the above mentioned concepts. It is my hope that students will gain an awareness of all the wonderful things that unite all our countries and rejoice in our diversity as well.