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Solider For Equality Jose' de la Luz Sanez…
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Solider For Equality Jose' de la Luz Sanez and the Great War

af Duncan Tonatiuh

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Learn about Jos de la Luz Senz, and his participation in the Great War.
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The incredible story of one man’s fight for Mexican-American civil rights, from award-winning picture book creator Duncan Tonatiuh

A 2020 Pura Belpré Award Author Honor Book
A 2020 Association of Library Service to Children Notable Children's Book

José de la Luz Sáenz (Luz) believed in fighting for what was right. Though born in the United States, Luz often faced prejudice because of his Mexican heritage. Determined to help his community, even in the face of discrimination, he taught school—children during the day and adults in the evenings.

When World War I broke out, Luz joined the army, as did many others. His ability to quickly learn languages made him an invaluable member of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, Luz found that prejudice followed him even to war, and despite his efforts, he often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon returning home to Texas, he joined with other Mexican American veterans to create the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which today is the largest and oldest Latinx civil rights organization.

Using his signature illustration style and Luz’s diary entries from the war, award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh tells the story of a Mexican American war hero and his fight for equality.
  HHABaltimore | May 20, 2021 |
Primary; Biography; Nonfiction; Historical; Informational; Based on the life of Jose de la Luz Saenz, this book tells the story of a young boy growing into a man who got well educated because he believed that education was how to fight for justice. He became a teacher and joined the military during WW1 to fight for justice. The author used his diary from his time in war to bring his story back to life in a powerful way. This is a great read aloud or library book, and especially impactful for students who may feel as though they are being discriminated against and have a passion to fight it. ( )
  MaggieRemy | Apr 10, 2021 |
José de la Luz Sáenz (1888-1953) was a teacher, civil rights activist, and co-founder of the League of United Latin American Citizens. The published diary of his World War I observations and experiences as a Mexican-American solider has become well-known.
Read the recently published children's book on this topic, then learn more at the website:
SOLDIER FOR EQUALITY by Duncan Tonatiuh is the winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the Robert F. Silbert medal. Featuring Tonatiuh’s unique illustrations, this biographical picture book explores the life and accomplishments of José de la Luz Sáenz. This Mexican-American activist overcame prejudice to become a World War I hero and advocate for equality. The book concludes with an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, glossary, and index.
The José de la Luz Sáenz page at the Texas State Historical Association provides an in-depth examination of this author and activist.
Visit the Texas State Historical Association
ARC Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers. ( )
  eduscapes | Apr 6, 2021 |
A man who believed in fighting for what was right, and even though his family and he himself was born and raised in America, they still faced judgment. When World War 1 happened, he volunteered to join. He was able to learn languages quickly so he was apart of the intelligent department, but due to the discrimination he did not get the recognition he deserved. The league of Latin american citizens of America was created by him and others who were in the war and did not get the recognition they deserved due to discrimination to put an end to it. The grade level is for 1-3 grade and this can be used in a social studies classroom to teach about the war and the discrimination that faced others during this time. ( )
  sdb064 | Mar 1, 2020 |
José de la Luz Sáenz was born on May 17, 1888 in South Texas. His grandmother had moved her family from Mexico to Texas in the 1870s. Although Luz and his family were as American as any other citizens, they experienced constant harassment from the prejudice and discrimination of their neighbors.

When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight for the U.S., the country of his birth - his country. He also felt a desire “to demonstrate that Mexican Americans loved America and would give their lives fighting for it.” Tonatiuh adds, quoting from Luz’s diary, “After they see the sacrifices we are willing to make, the people who mistreat us will start treating us fairly - con igualdad y justicia.”

Alas, this didn’t happen, and Luz was tormented by his fellow soldiers. Nor did he receive recognition for his contributions to the war. Because of his language skills, Luz served in the Intelligence Section, translating documents from Spanish and French into English. In spite of the value of his work, he was twice denied entry into officer training school with no explanation and remained a private throughout the war.

When he returned home to Texas, he discovered that things had not improved for people of Mexican origin after the war as he had hoped they would:

“Mexican American children were still being sent to separate and inferior schools. Business still had signs that said NO MEXICANS ALLOWED.”

Luz and other war veterans unhappy with their treatment after the war decided to organize Mexican Americans to fight for civil rights. On February 17, 1919, Luz co-founded the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He also wrote articles and gave speeches to fight against racism and prejudice. Tonatiuh concludes:

“Luz had proudly fought with the United States Army in Europe for the ideals of democracy and justice. Now he fought on the home front in Texas for those same ideas: democracia y justicia. He fought for equality. Igualdad."

The book concludes with an Author’s Note, timeline, and a bibliography.

Tonatiuh, who is an award-winning illustrator, creates gorgeous folkloric art work, inspired by Mixtec (native Mexican) codices from the 14th century. He juxtaposes the indigenous style with modern characters and settings. He also uses the pictures to enlarge upon the text. Because the illustrations also tell the story without words, they serves to extend the recommended age range of this book (age 6 and up).

Evaluation: As usual, Tonatiuh combines meticulous research with outstanding art to bring attention to history that should be better known. ( )
  nbmars | Feb 29, 2020 |
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