Social Justice

Objective 1:

Name and identify various movements and organizations Latinx activists have participated in throughout US history.

Objective 2:

Locate key activists within the timeline of US history, especially within Black and Latinx US history.

      Objective 3:

      Identify the different strategies activists use and apply them to hypothetical scenarios.

        Objective 4:

        Understand how social justice activists have contributed to history, especially within the local reality of Connecticut


        Social Justice is “the way in which human rights are manifested in the everyday lives of people at every level of society” (Centre,2000) Throughout this unit, students will examine Latinxs’ contributions to civil and human rights and explore the many social justice movements Latinxs have participated in throughout history. Throughout history, Latinx activists had incredible success organizing within and across communities through generations. Students will draw connections between large historical events and the contemporary organizations in Connecticut working to expand upon the achievements of these historical figures.


        Terms to Know

        Affirmative action: action taken by a government or private institution to make up for past discrimination in education, work, or promotion on tha basis of age, birth, color, creed, nationality, ehtnic origin,physical or mental ability, familial status, gender, language, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation

        Agency: the ability to act independently and make free choices; the ability to make conscious decisions for oneself

        Agent: a member of a dominant or majority group

        Ally: a person who supports marginalized, silenced, or less privileged groups without actually being a member of those groups. This person will often directly confront and challenge systems of oppression


        Bias: an inclination of preference, especially one that interferes with impartial judgement

        Capitalism: an economic and political order that relies on a mostly-private, unequal market system of production and consumption

        Civil rights: the rights establish and ensured by a state government regarding political and social equity

        Classism: an attitude or institutional practice which subordinates people of a certain socioeconomic class due to income, occupation, education, and/or their economic status; a system that works to keep certain communities within a set socioeconomic class and prevents social and economic mobility

        Coalition: an alliance or union of different people, communities, or groups working for a common cause

        Cultural appropriation: the act of members of dominant/powerful/privileged groups claiming ownership of, or the rights to, less powerful/privileged groups’ cultural and/or religious symbols, dress and ceremonies

        Democracy: a governmental system whose actions and principles value and reflect the people’s views through their views

        Diversity: a multiplicity of shared and different individual and group experiences, values, beliefs, and characteristics among people

        Direct service: active service on cases and work with patients as distinguished from staff functions

        Genocide: the intentional attempt to completely erase or destroy a peoples through structural oppression and/or open acts of physically violence

        Immigrant: a person who moves out of their country of birth, supposedly for permanent residence in a new country

        Institution: any established law or custom that is accepted as part of a culture

        Intersectionality: the intersection of race, class, ender, and ability identities within each individual that informs how one views, discusses, and navigates through the world the way each of us views and discusses the world the way each of us views and discusses the world

        Justice: the establishment or determination of rights according to rules of law and standards of equity; the process or result of using laws to fairly judge crimes and criminality

        Privilege: benefit, advantage, or favor granted to individuals and communities by unequal social structures and institutions

        Race: a terms used to identify and define individuals as part of a distinct group based on physical characteristics and some cultural and historical commonalities; once used to denote differentiation in humankind based on physiology and biology, race is now understood as a social construct that is not scientifically based, though is still commonly associated with notions of biological difference; race is still sometimes perceived as innate and inalterable

        Radical: (especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something far reaching or thorough

        Racial Profiling: A form of racializaed community violence.2. Structural and institutional racial xenophobia.3. Refers to the practice of a law enforcement agent or agency relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin in selecting which individuals to subject to routine opr investigatory activities such as traffic stops, searches, and seizures

        Reform: make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it

        Social justice: an anti-oppression orientation to social and political organization. 2. The process and goal of addressing the root causes of institutional and structural “isms”

        Important terms to know

        Words you will need to know to understand the language being used in regards to the subject of Social Justice.

        History on Education and Language

        Latinxs have played important roles in many different social justice movements throughout US history. Latinxs have intersecting identities. Latinxs can be disabled, LGBTQ+, homeless; Latinxs are women, they are workers, and they have diverse racial identities. There is not one ‘Latinx movement,’ which we see in this unit. Throughout history, Latinxs have been present in nearly every civil and human rights movement.

        Latinx activists have used many different strategies such as protest, direct service, political participation, community education, and art to work toward social justice. This unit will include the different ways Latinx activists have accomplished their goals.

        Young people as activists: many of the activists highlighted began their work in their teens and early 20’s. Notably, the Young Lords, a radical activist group, was started and run by young people all across the country. Also, student activists in high school and college in Connecticut today are the reason this class is now offered in our schools.

        Latinxs played an active role in fighting for the rights of all marginalized people, working and fighting in solidarity with others struggling for their rights including Black civil rights, disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, labor rights, women’s rights, educational rights, and more.

        Latinx activism is ongoing and many of the organizations that started decades ago are still around and many initiatives have started just within the past decade. Throughout this section, we will be highlighting “local realities,” to make modern-day connections in and around our communities to these historical Latinx activists. Some of the activists included in this section are still alive and active today.

        We will be using the activists below in a historical timeline / thematic way to show each form of activism Latinos have played a part in but also show how they are still being continued in our local realities.

        Latinxs have played important roles in nearly every social justice movement throughout US history. Latinx activists have used many different strategies such as protest, direct service, political participation, community education, and art to work toward social justice. Click here to learn about some notable Latinx activists in US history.

        Also, student activists in high school and college in Connecticut today are the reason the course on African-American and Latinx Studies is now offered in CT high schools.

        Latinxs played an active role in fighting for the rights of all marginalized people, working and fighting in solidarity with others struggling for their rights including Black civil rights, disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, labor rights, women’s rights, educational rights, and more.

        Latinx activism is ongoing and many of the organizations that started decades ago are still around and many initiatives have started just within the past decade. Throughout this section, we will be highlighting “local realities,” to make modern-day connections in and around our communities to these historical Latinx activists. Some of the activists included in this section are still alive and active today.

        Connecticut has been home to a plethora of Latinx activists working toward justice. This section will highlight the people working toward change in our own communities.

          Important People History Has Ignored

          These individuals are those who have been ignored by history and are key to understanding the role that LatinX people have served in regards to Activism and Social Justice

          Jose Marti

          Jose Marti was a poet, journalist, and revolutionary writer from Cuba. He became a delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in 1892 and developed plans for Cuban independence. He raised funds and joined forces with Cuban generals to go into battle for Cuban independence in 1895.


          Sylvia Mendez

          Puerto Rican and Mexican migrants and a life-long civil rights activist whose name first became recognizable during the California court case Mendez v. Westminster when she was only 8 years old. This case ended de jure segregation in California’s schools. Today, Mendez continues to give speaking engagements about her parents’ contributions to educational equality

          Jose "Cha Cha" Jimenez

          Jose Cha Cha Jimenez founded the Young Lords Organization (YLO) on September 23, 1968, when he was 20 years old.  It was initially founded the Young Lords to fight back against the gentrification of the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. In collaboration with these organizations, they provided free breakfast programs and childcare, offered free health and dental clinics for poor communities, and fought for women’s rights in cities across the country.

          Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

          An Afro-Puerto Rican intellectual and archivist who worked to recover and preserve the histories of the African Diaspora.Throughout his life, Schomburg collected a database of documents and artifacts relating to the African Diaspora so large that his legacy turned into a branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL).

          Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales

          One of the founders of the Chicano Movement. Gonzales fought alongside fellow Chicanxs to increase voter turnout, secure workers’ rights to unionize, and increase educational opportunities for the Chicanx community

          Sylvia Rivera

          Sylvia Rivera was a trans woman from New York of Venezuelan and Puerto Rican descent. At age 11, she became homeless to escape her transphobic home life. Rivera was a vocal critic of many gay rights organizations as many of these groups alienated the transgender community and erased members of the queer community who were not white and middle class. In 1970, Rivera and close friend Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), to provide for transgender and queer community members. STAR provided housing, support, and a voice for members of the queer and trans community, no matter what their situations were.

          CT: Connections To Local Realities

          The Black and Puerto Rican Caucus are the elected representatives in Connecticut that openly fight for the rights and equality of Black and Latino members of society. Their priorities going into 2019 were to fight on the topic of Prison Reform, in particular, helping former inmates re-enter society to a more welcoming environment. Along with fighting Prison Reform they wanted to help people of color from going to jail at disproportionate rates.

          Madre Latina was founded in 2011 by Yoellie Iglesias  and a group of Latinas who wanted to connect the Latino community with programs and services in Connecticut.The organization is dedicated to improving the health, educational attainment, human welfare and opportunities for Latino families in Connecticut by connecting them to the resources in the community they may not know about. Madre Latina’s overall goals are to provide educational, health and lifelong learning acting as a support network to continue Latino success.

          Hispanic Coalition was founded  in 1988 with the goal to foster the creation of successful Latino individuals. The Hispanic Coalition acts as a center to help families find the resources they need while also enriching the growth of the community through programs that work with students of color growth and the elderly Latino population.

          Hearing Youth Voices are a youth-led & created social justice organization working to create systemic change in the education system throughout Connecticut. They helped fight for the bill PA 19-12 that is enforcing the right to equal and diverse education of Black and Latino Studies.

          Hispanic Federation (HF) is a Latino nonprofit membership organization with influence throughout the Eastern seaboard. Founded in 1990, its goals are to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families, and strengthen Latino institutions, through their national and local offices. The CT office “advocates and organizes in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, & the environment” and spends time in legislative sessions fighting for the rights of CT Latinos. They also support Latino-serving agencies with training and grants to further the quality of help done in these communities.. The national president and CEO is seen below Frankie Miranda.

          Putting The Information Into Practice

          These learning activities include both in-class exercises as well as take-home assignments and projects for students to participate in. Collaboration and inquiry are of high importance here. Students should be challenged to ask their own questions and do their own research during this unit. They should also be encouraged to communicate and work with fellow students as well as teachers in a variety of ways. This method of learning mirrors the ways that activists have learned from and educated one another throughout history.

          Read and Respond

          Students will take turns reading aloud about historical Latinx activists. Afterwards, students will write a few sentences about the activist whose story they resonated with most and why, along with any more questions they have. Students will share what they wrote about with small groups of classmates and afterwards participate in a full class discussion about their discussions.

          Build a Timeline

          As a class, students will build a timeline of social justice movements and actors in the United States. Students will also add historical events from other units of this class as well as from generalized U.S. history. This activity will allow students to contextualize how activist movements interacted with their surroundings and played a role in history.

          Share a Connection

          Students will find a piece of media that relates to an activist or movement they resonated with and share that piece of media with the class. Media can include a picture, song, short video, piece of artwork, etc. Students will give a short introduction about the piece of media they chose before showing it to the class.

          Take Home Assignment 

          Students can choose a Latino or Black Activist of their choice that they believe left an impact on the United States to this day. With the activist they choose, they must represent a movement that occurred during the Civil Rights Era, and another should locate their New Era local counterpart. This can be done as either a small research assignment or even a powerpoint presentation.

          Start a Movement

          This will be a group project so that students can simulate the collaborative organizing of activists throughout history. Students will be challenged to think of the issues that they believe exist in their community of peers. Students will create a plan to start a movement of their choice to put a stop to the injustice, however large or small, that they chose to highlight. In the final version of this project, students will appoint themselves to various roles within their new movement, explain how they would attract others to their cause, and what strategies they would use to enact change. They should also detail how they can sustain their movement through various changes so that other students would be able to keep the movement going even if they were to leave.

          Social media campaign:

          Groups of students should work together to creative and engaging educational content about Black and Latinx contributions to a social justice movement of their choice. Students can create their own educational graphics or videos in the format of instagram posts, infographics, tik tok videos, youtube videos, blog posts, or other social media or digital mediums. Students can choose to highlight a particular activist or a particular era in social justice, or they can choose a social justice theme to follow throughout US history. “Posts” should be easy to read and accessible for all levels of learning and students can get creative, adopting popular social media trends or fun formats to get their information across. Students should also cite recent news stories and current events in their content. Alternatively, students can imagine how historical activists might campaign differently if they had access to today’s social media platforms. What might Cesar Chavez have done with Tik Tok? The teacher can decide if the projects should be launched on actual platforms through accounts created in class or if the projects will be kept just for classroom use. Through this project, students will exercise their creativity and gain experience in professional/educational use of social media that they can use for portfolios and resumes.

          Monument project:

          Students propose a monument to be built at school or in the community commemorating a Latinx activist or movement. They can be as creative as they would like, but they should explain who or what they chose and why, where the monument should be, what it should look like, and what its significance or purpose would be in the community. Students should be encouraged to be innovative and think outside of the box about their monuments. Who and what is usually celebrated? What do monuments normally look like? How does the community interact with monuments? How can students creatively challenge these expectations?

          Companion Pieces For Students

          To the right, we have listed some companion pieces teachers can add or recommend for students. The first four pieces are books that are made to tell different stories of people in the Latinx community. The second row has four movie recommendations for the classroom.


          Lastly, we have linked four videos that talk about different perspectives people have on bilingualism and the educational system. We included two slam poetry videos on the educational system and bilingualism, a quick  informational video on the benefits of bilingualism, and a video on people who are trying to reclaim their heritage by learning Spanish later in their lives.

          The House on Mango Street

          A story about a young Chicana and what it is like growing up a Latina immigrant in Chicago

          How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

          This is a coming-of-age story about four sisters from the Dominican Republic



          The Poet X

          Fifteen-year-old Xiomara, who goes by X, works through the tension and conflict in her family by writing poetry. The book was well received and won multiple awards at the 2019 Youth Media Awards.


          Gabby Garcia’s Ultimate Playbook

          Dear fans of Dork Diaries and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life—story about a confident Latina pitcher and her journey of self-improvement

          The 13th

          This movie, “explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.”

          Precious Knowledge

          In Tucson, Arizona, high-schoolers and teachers try their best to save their ethinc studies class from being removed.


          A teacher becomes a mentor to Chicano high-school students protesting injustices in public schools in 1968.

          Chicano! Taking Back Our Schools

          The movie documents the 1968 walkout by thousands of Mexican-American high school students in East Los Angeles against unfair treatment in their schools.