The Cinco de Mayo is not a Mexican holiday. In fact, in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is scarcely noticed. Why do we in the United States celebrate the victory of a battle that took place in Mexico over 150 years ago? Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated as a national holiday in Mexico because it was created and first celebrated by Latinos living in California. Learning that the Mexican Army had defeated invading French troops at Puebla on May 5, 1862, Latinos in California rejoiced that the forces of freedom and democracy had won a victory over forces of slavery and elite rule. Latinos up and down the state celebrated with fireworks, patriotic songs, speeches, banquets, and dances. The Cinco de Mayo, therefore, is an American Civil War commemoration, created by Latinos living in California as a public statement about where Latinos stood on key issues of the Civil War:
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Every year, CESLAC, in partnership with La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LAPCA) and Ballet Folklórico Flor de Mayo (BFFM), bring the real history of Cinco de Mayo to life through our Cinco de Mayo teatro production, based on the research featured in Dr. David Hayes-Bautista’s book, Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition (University of California Press, 2012).
Cinco de Mayo in a Box:
CESLAC’s “Cinco de Mayo in a Box” curriculum kit, aligned to Common Core standards, is designed primarily to acquaint eighth-grade students with a chapter of the history of the United States’s Civil War that, until recently, had been all but forgotten. The kit also contains materials that can be used by any primary or middle school to put on its own Cinco de Mayo celebration in a way that educates students and their families about the holiday’s true origins and meaning.
CESLAC is developing K-12 cross-curriculum lesson plans, aligned to Common Core standards, to supplement and expand “Cinco de Mayo in a Box.”