Soldier For Equality: Jose de la Luz Saenz and the Great War

Soldier For Equality: Jose de la Luz Saenz and the Great War
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Release Date
September 03, 2019
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A 2020 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book!

José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.

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Soldier For Equality
(Updated: April 17, 2020)
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What worked: As a former bilingual teacher and someone who shares Mexican heritage, I love books that share stories about Latinx leaders.

This biography tells the story of Jose de la Luz Saenz and how he longed for our country to stop discrimination and to accept those of Mexican heritage. He was a teacher and saw many injustices against those like him in Texas. Some don't know that at this time, there were signs that denied anyone who was Mexican to eat at their restaurants or to go to their schools. Yes, Latinx children were segregated into Mexican-only schools. Saenz then enlisted to fight in WWI, feeling this would help bring justice to his people, but he came back to the same discrimination. He kept a promise he made with fellow Mexican-American soldiers to form their own organization to help fellow Latinx people.

This story is important and I totally recommend to school libraries and classrooms. I taught a first grade bilingual classroom close to East L.A. In my classroom I taught my students to be proud of their heritage and shared stories of fellow Latinx leaders. This book would have been perfect! I also feel it could be used in high school classrooms.

Beautifully illustrated that gives a great insight into Latino Civil Rights Activist Jose de la Luz Saenz who helped create the League of United Latin American Citizens(LULAC). An important biography that I highly recommend.
Good Points
1. Beautifully illustrated
2. Great insight into Latino Civil Rights Activist Jose de la Luz Saenz
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