Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month The Democracy Prep Way!

Latinx / Hispanic Heritage Month is the first of many celebrations of identity that take place over the school year at Democracy Prep Public Schools. It is a time for all of us to celebrate Latinx culture, honor the heritage of this diverse community, and give everyone who identifies as Latinx an opportunity to feel seen and heard. While today is the last day of Latinx / Hispanic Heritage Month, Democracy Prep works hard to ensure that we tell these stories all year long!

Democracy Prep is a community that is committed to celebrating ALL forms of identity, especially those of historically marginalized communities. Our organization aims to create a space where everyone feels seen, loved, welcomed, and understood. At Democracy Prep, we educate many scholars who come from the Latin American diaspora — parts of the world such as Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Panama, just to name a few! We understand the importance of knowing and honoring one’s history, and celebrating Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month is one of the ways we accomplish this.

You might ask, What have our schools been up to then?
Our schools and network honored Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month in a variety of creative and engaging ways, and we’re so excited to share their celebrations with you! Here are some of the events and activities our scholars and staff enjoyed:

Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month Kick-Off
What better way to start a month full of celebration than a community Kick-Off party? During their “Mi Gente” event, the scholars, families, and staff of Democracy Prep at the Stewart Campus had a ton of fun listening to live mariachi music, watching dance and drumming performances, engaging with scholar-led presentations, playing games, and much more!
Visual Arts Challenge
The Arts and Civics programs partnered to host a series of network-wide visual arts challenges throughout the month celebrating the works and contributions of Hispanic/Latinx artists. Art is one of the many creative mediums that our scholars use to express themselves and we want our scholars to find their voice in a way that’s most meaningful to them. Scholar Sakura of Democracy Prep Charter Middle School decided to draw her own interpretation of one of Frida Kahlo’s timeless self-portraits and we’ve gotta say, we’re SUPER impressed!
Rep-Your-Flag Day
Our scholars are out here representing! Democracy Prep Charter High School and Bronx Prep High School had their own Rep-your-Flag Day where scholars and staff alike got the chance to incorporate their flags into their wardrobe. Some folks got really creative and we’re here for it!El Museo del Barrio Virtual Tour
Scholars at Democracy Prep Harlem Elementary enjoyed a virtual tour of El Museo del Barrio, where they got to discover the “artistic landscape of Latinx, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures.”Learning The Los Machetes Dance
Elementary scholars of Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus learned the Los Machetes dance, which tells the story of cutting down sugarcane during the harvest. It was created by Mexican farm workers who spent a tremendous amount of time perfecting the use of the machete for harvesting.

That’s not all! We want to make sure that Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of celebration AND education, which is why we shared some of our top picks for books, podcasts, and movies to stay informed.

Books To Read:
1. A Nation of Women, by Luisa Capetillo
The groundbreaking feminist and socialist writings of Puerto Rican author and activist Luisa Capetillo.

2. Undocumented, by Dan-el Padilla Peralta
An undocumented immigrant’s journey from a New York City homeless shelter to the top of his Princeton class.

3. Sanctuary, by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher
Co-founder of the Women’s March makes her YA debut in a near future dystopian where a young girl and her brother must escape a xenophobic government to find sanctuary.

4. App Kid, Michael Sayman
An inspiring and deeply personal coming of age memoir from one of Silicon Valley’s youngest entrepreneurs—a second-generation Latino immigrant who taught himself how to code as a thirteen-year-old and went on to claim his share of the American dream.

5. Finding Latinx, by Paola Ramos
Latinos across the United States are redefining identities, pushing boundaries, and awakening politically in powerful and surprising ways. Many—Afrolatino, indigenous, Muslim, queer and undocumented, living in large cities and small towns—are voices who have been chronically overlooked in how the diverse population of almost sixty million Latinos in the U.S. has been represented. No longer.

Movies To Enjoy:
1. The Book of Life (2014)
Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

2. Paper Children (2020)
This documentary explores America’s invisible refugee crisis through the eyes of one Miami family who navigates a broken system with unwavering resilience.

3. The Latino List (2011)
Renowned Latino artists and leaders pose for a series of highly personal video portraits in this documentary.

4. Real Women Have Curves (2002)
In East Los Angeles, an 18-year-old struggles between her ambitions of going to college and the desires of her domineering mother for her to get married, have children, and oversee the small, rundown family-owned textile factory.

5. Stolen Education (2017)
This documentary tells the story of Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950’s and changed the face of education in the Southwest.

Podcasts To Explore:
1. In The Thick, Futuro Media
Journalists of color tell you what you’re missing from the mainstream news. Co-hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, IN THE THICK has the conversations about race, identity and politics few people are discussing or want to discuss.

2. News In Slow Spanish, Linguistica 360
A podcast for those who already possess a basic vocabulary and some knowledge of Spanish grammar. In our weekly program we discuss the Weekly News, Spanish grammar and Spanish expressions at a slow pace so that you can understand almost every word and sentence.

3. Latina to Latina, Lantigua Williams & Co.
In this interview series, host Alicia Menendez talks to remarkable Latinas about making it, faking it, and everything in between. In often-hilarious and always-revealing episodes, Alicia and her guests take on the challenges of existing, and then thriving, as women of color.

4. Tres Cuentos Literary Podcast, Carolina Quiroga-Stultz
Tres Cuentos is a bilingual seasonal podcast dedicated to Latin America’s narratives. Each episode is in Spanish and English. The podcast narrates all types of literature and later reflects on different cultural and historical aspects. Our goal is to bring attention and appreciation of Latin America’s diverse history and works of literature.

5. Latino USA, PRX
Latino USA offers insight into the lived experiences of Latino communities and is a window on the current and merging cultural, political and social ideas impacting Latinos and the nation.
At Democracy Prep, we firmly believe that one’s educational journey never ends — there is always more to learn, more to understand, and more to experience. Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to broaden our knowledge of the Latinx Diaspora, which may be something that is extremely personal or entirely new to you. Whether you are someone trying to learn more about your own history or someone experiencing something new, you are all welcome in this space aimed towards empowering and educating our scholars and our community.

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