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California Humanities Recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, (September 15 – October 15) we recognize the contributions and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to California and celebrate their heritage and culture.  Here’s a look back at some of the many Latino-focused projects California Humanities has supported.

La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead. A compelling narrative documentary exploreing the study of Mexican and Chicano celebrations in remembrance of the dead on the first and second of November each year — La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead is itself both an offering (ofrenda) and a subversive act.

 

Chicano Rock: The Sounds of East Los Angeles.  An hour long documentary looks at the emergence of the “ELA sound” – blending of Latino, rock, r&b, and other musical traditions – and its impact on American popular music. This film was   broadcast nationally on PBS in 2009.

Everything Comes From the Streets. The history and cultural tradition of low-riding and car customization in San Diego’s barrio provides a way to explore Mexican American culture, community, and activism. This hour-long film has garnered international recognition and acclaim.

Las Grandes de Boyle Heights and East L.A. A team of high school and college students, under the direction of CSULA faculty, created this documentary largely based in interviews with “the great ones” — women who have made a difference in this community. Specifically five female community builders: Ofelia Esparza, an altar maker and artist. Juana Beatriz Gutierrez, a church/environmental activist, Martha Soriana, the president of a community organization established during the Great Depression; Susana Reynoso, a highly acclaimed teacher at Roosevelt High School; and Josefina Lopez, award winning playwright, screenwriter and founder of Casa 0101.

Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice.  An award-winning documentary about the courageous California Mexican American lawyer and jurist who has spent his life fighting for social justice. He was California’s first Latino Supreme Court justice and one of America’s first Latino law professors.

 

Now En Español. This project tells the story of five Latina actresses in Los Angeles who dub “Desperate Housewives” for Spanish language audiences in the US. These dynamic women struggle to pursue their Hollywood careers while balancing the responsibilities of making rent and raising children – surviving but with their dreams always out of reach. As they confront an industry that offers few balanced or compelling roles, their elusive success reveals the persistent inequities of Latino representation in American media. 

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