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Lesson

Estoy Aquí: Music of the Chicano Movement
A History of Oppression: Precursors to the Chicano Movement
Estoy Aquí: Music of the Chicano Movement / A History of Oppression: Precursors to the Chicano Movement

The Mexican American community’s history of oppression can be traced all the way back to the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century, after which, native people were exploited for their labor and forced to speak a new language. The Mexican-American War (1846–1848) resulted in contentious land disputes, and the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) forced many people to flee their homeland, which was ravaged by violence. These refugees faced many obstacles after crossing the border but remained inspired by revolutionary figures (like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata), who stood up against injustices and demanded change. As you engage with the music in this lesson (which highlights both negative and positive aspects of these events), you will gain a deeper understanding of how history can shape both the present and the future.

Lesson Components & Learning Objectives

  1. A History of Displacement

    • Explain why important historical events (e.g., Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica, Mexican-American War, Mexican Revolution) contributed to the systemic oppression faced by the Mexican American community.
    • Approx. 30 minutes
  2. Historical Symbols and Musical Sounds

    • Identify the ways in which singer-songwriters used imagery, historical symbols, and the elements of music within their compositions to convey expressive intent.
    • 25–30 minutes
  3. Music and the Mexican American Generation

    • Compare and contrast two versions of “La bamba”
    • Perform an arrangement of “La bamba” inspired by Ritchie Valens’s version of this song
    • Approx. 45 minutes

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Bibliography

Text

Gregory, A. (2016). A brief history of the zoot suit. Smithsonian Magazine.

Martinez, B. (1973). Brotando del silencio: Breaking out of the silence, by Suni Paz [Liner notes]. Paredon Records.

Montoya, M. (2016). The Chicano movement for beginners. For Beginner Books.

Rosales, F. A. (1996). Chicano! The history of the Mexican American civil rights movement. Arte Público Press.

Sheehy, D. (2003). La bamba: Sones jarochos from Veracruz, by José Gutiérrez & Los Hermanos Ochoa [Liner notes]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (n.d.). Suni Paz: Argentinian singer and songwriter. In Explore: Artist spotlight.

Strachwitz, C. (2001). La alondra de la frontera – live!, by Lydia Mendoza [Liner notes].  Arhoolie Records.

Strachwitz, C., & Nicolopulos, J. (1993). Lydia Mendoza: A family autobiography. Arte Público Press.

TeachRock (n.d.). Ritchie Valens biography [Worksheet]. In Teach Rock Lesson: Ritchie Valens.

Zettler, J.  (2009). Corridos of the Chicano movement [Liner notes].  Arhoolie Records.

Audio*

Paz, S. (1973). Corrido de Aztlán [Audio recording]. On Brotando del silencio: Breaking out of the silence [Album]. Paredon Records.

Mendoza, L. (2001). Adelita [Audio recording]. On La alondra de la frontera – live! [Album]. Arhoolie Records.

Gutiérrez, J., & Los Hermanos Ochoa (2003). La bamba [Audio recording]. On La bamba: Sones jarochos from Veracruz [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Valens, R. (1993). La bamba [Audio recording]. On The Ritchie Valens story [Album]. Rhino Records.

Images*

Juley, P. (1931). Agrarian leader Zapata (fresco), by Diego Rivera [Photograph]. In Juley & Son collection [Archival collection]. Photograph Archives, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, JUL J0005911.

Carnicero, D.A. (ca. 1791). Hernan Cortes [Ink on paper]. In Retratos de los españoles ilustres, con un epítome de sus vidas [Book], published as engraving by D. J. A. Carmona. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Colonel and Mrs. Robert P. Hare III, GA.20683.

Jaimiko. (n.d). Aztlán’s goal map [Digital map]. In Wikimedia Commons.

Walker, J. (1848). The storming of Chapultepec [Print]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. From the Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection, DL.60.2602.

Walker, J. (ca. mid-19th century). Zachary Taylor [Oil on canvas]. In American origins [Exhibit]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Eric Martin Wunsch, NPG.72.26.

Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) [Exchange copy]. In Perfected treaties, 1778–1945; Record Group 11 [Archival collection]. General Records of the United States Government, 1778–1992, National Archives, Washington, DC.

Moya, M. (1986). La tierra nueva en Aztlán [Paño art]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 1991.0431.01.

Gemelli Careri, G. F. (1704). Gemelli map of the Aztec migration from Aztlan to Chapultepec [Map]. In A voyage round the world in six parts, viz. I. of Turky. II. of Persia. III. of India. IV. of China. V. of the Philippine Islands. VI. of New Spain [Book], p. 481. Written originally in Italian, translated into English. Originally printed for Awnsham and John Churchill at the Black Swan in Pater-noster-Row, London. Courtesy of Geographicus Rare Antique Maps.

Arreguin, A. (2007). The return to Aztlán [Oil on canvas]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Felix Arreguin Velez and Catalina Toledo de Arreguin, NPG.2007.214.

Cohen Cramer, S. (2006). Bandera mía: Songs of Argentina, by Suni Paz [Cover art]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Photograph by Daniel Sheehy, SFW40532.

Zalce, A. (1947). "¡Mátalos en caliente!" Veracruz, 25 de Junio de 1879 [Engraving print]. In Estampas de la revolución mexicana, 85 grabados de los artistas del taller de gráfica popular, 1947 [Portfolio]. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Marta Adams papers, circa 1914–circa 1991, (DSI-AAA)9105.

Unknown artists (n.d.) Viva la revolucion [Poster]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. John A. Armendariz, 296849.36.

Siqueiros, D. A. (1931) Zapata [Oil on canvas]. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 66.4605.

Peña, A. M., Jr. (1975) Justicia [Screenprint on paper]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Amado M. Peña, Sr. and Maria Peña, 1996.47.2.

Bain News Service, Publisher (ca. 1910-1915). Bridge--El Paso to Juarez [Photograph]. In George Grantham Bain Collection [Archival collection]. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC, 2014695225.

Rios, R. (ca. 1978) Mexican immigrant (mural study for U.S. Border Patrol, Marfa, Texas) [Carbon transfer drawing on paperboard]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Transfer from the General Services Administration, Art-in-Architecture Program, 1988.29.1.

Hernández, J. (1970). El concepto de Aztlán [Cover art]. In Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies [Journal]. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Los Angeles, CA. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/676044/pdf.

Unknown maker (Early 20th century). Tambourine [Musical instrument]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC., 2003.0146.01.

Unknown maker (20th century). Güiro [Musical instrument]. In Teodoro Vidal collection of Puerto Rican history [Archival collection]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Teodoro Vidal, 1997.0097.1077.

Unknown maker (20th century). Puyero de güiro [Musical instrument]. In Teodoro Vidal collection of Puerto Rican history [Archival collection]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Teodoro Vidal, 1997.0097.1097.

Latin Percussion, Inc. (1999). LP bongo drums [Musical instrument]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Transfer from Smithsonian Institution Center for Latino Initiatives (through: Dr. Refugio I. Rochin, Director), 2003.3039.15.

Emerman, M. (1973). Suni Paz (guitar) and Ramíro Fernández (bombo drum) [Photograph]. In Brotando del silencio: Breaking out of the silence [Liner notes], p. 4. Paredon Records, Brooklyn, NY, PAR01016.

Lkeskinen0 (n.d.) Colorful drum [Illustration] In Dreamstime, 151383163.

Hernández, E. (1987). Lydia Mendoza, Ciudad Juarez, 1937 [Screenprint on paper]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Acquisition made possible through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, NPG.2018.75.

Rendón, A. (1987, printed 2015). Adelita [Gelatin silver print]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Acquisition made possible through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, 2016.6.4.

Valadez, R. (n.d.). Rosita [Acrylic on canvas]. Robert Valadez Fine Arts.

Weil, E. (1996). Lydia Mendoza: First queen of tejano music [Cover art]. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA. Promotional photo by Ideal Records, tinted by Elizabeth Weil, ARH00392.

Hobbs, M. H. (1934). Old Mexico [Etching]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2014.0148.08.

Gomez, I. (1978, printed 2002). Zoot suit [Screenprint on paper]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Ricardo and Harriett Romo, 2011.51.1.

Taylor, C. J. (1889, June 26). The mortar of assimilation [Print]. In Puck [Magazine]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Marcia B. Kass, 2009.0245.144.

Helguera, L. (ca. 1942). Americans all: Let’s fight for victory/Americanos todos: Luchamos por la victoria [Poster]. In Series: World War II posters, 1942–1945, Record group 44: Records of the Office of Government Reports, 1932–1947 [Archival collection]. National Archives, Washington, DC. Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch, Bureau of Special Services (3/9/1943-9/15/1945), NAID513803.

Ponce, L. (ca. 2014). Pacoima mural memorial [Mural]. In PublicDomainPictures.net. Photograph by Circe Denyer.

Sheehy, D. (2003). Arpa jarocha, jarana jarocha, and requinto jarocho [Photograph]. In La bamba: Sones jarochos from Veracruz [Liner notes], p. 1. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC, SFW40505.

Lonestar Restaurant Assc. (n.d.). Lonestar restaurant association sign, ca. 1940s [Sign]. In Wikimedia Commons. Photograph by Adam Jones, PhD, 2012. Originally displayed at the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN.

*Audio, video, and images listed in order of slideshow sequence