National Hispanic Heritage Month has fallen between the 15th day of September and October of every year since 1988. The credit for the initial efforts of the earned commemoration belongs to former Los Angeles council member and US representative, Edward R. Roybal. According to Salud America, Roybal’s proposed precursor, once known as Hispanic Heritage Week, was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, but it took the 20 additional years and the voice of US Rep. Esteban E. Torres for the week to be extended to a full month under President Regan’s administration.
Many Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras have been celebrating Sept. 15 since 1821 as the anniversary of their independence from Spain. Later days throughout the month signify independence for other countries as well, Mexico and Chile being in that number. The long history of celebrating hard work and achievements during this monumental month should not be hindered by the challenges of this year. One of the best ways to educate yourself on the strife and victories of the hispanic community during quarantine is through watching films and documentaries about their stories. Let them inspire you to make a positive change in your life and in the lives of others.
El Norte 1983
After choosing to act in change for better living conditions, a tribe of Mayan natives lost their homes to the Guatemalan army’s destruction. Brother and sister, Rosa and David, escape death and decide to flee to El Norte in hopes of creating a better life. The story follows the pair on their journey through struggles and dangerous encounters as they attempt to illegally immigrate into the United States.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Youtube
Stand and Deliver 1988
Passionate Los Angeles high school teacher, Jaime Escalante, relies on tough love and his unorthodox teaching style to prepare his counted out class of irreverent pupils for California’s standardized calculus test. After scoring remarkably higher than most expected, the class’s honor code was questioned. In order to vindicate themselves and rise above unfair profiling, the students retake the test.
Available on: Netflix, Youtube
My Family/ Mi Familia 1995
A second generation Mexican immigrant recounts the history and traditions of his family. Each listed generation deals with strife whether it be lost love, illegal deportation, or community disagreements. Many changes occur on the journey from the past to the present, but the essence of his family’s hispanic pride and strength is never lost.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Youtube
This film tells the real life story of Tejano singer, songwriter, and icon, Selena Quintanilla - Perez. It details her rise to stardom from singing in her Mexican- American family’s band to becoming a Grammy award winning inspiration. Before achieving her ultimate dream of transcending language barriers with an English album, the star’s light was tragically taken from her, but her impact continues to live on.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Youtube
Gotta Kick It Up 2002
This Disney Channel Original Movie is based on a true story about Meghan Cole. Two girls Yolanda and Daisy at a predominantly Latin-American middle school recruit their new biology teacher, Ms. Bartlett, to coach their school’s dance team. The team struggles internally with the expectations of family and friends around them, but decide to use Dolores Huerta’s mantra, “Sí se puede”, as motivation for them to compete in unknown territory.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Disney+, Google Play, Youtube
Stolen Education 2013
The documentary captures the unspoken stories of eight Mexican-American children who challenged a Texas school system in court for hindering their academic progression based on discrimination.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Kanopy
Cesar Chavez 2014
After witnessing the suffering and injustices of farmworkers in the time of the depression, Arizona native, Cesar Chavez, organizes a peaceful army of boycotters to take action. They risk their lives and their freedom for equality and social change.
Available on: Amazon Prime, Tubi TV, Youtube
Underwater Dreams 2014
A ragtag group of teens, born to undocumented Mexican immigrants, defy the odds and construct an underwater robot from parts bought at a home improvement store. Their empowering story is a catalyst for other brown boys and girls that follow in their footsteps.
Available on : Amazon Video, Apple iTunes
McFarland USA 2015
“Gringo” track coach, Jim White, assumes a new role at a majority LatinX high school. The coach and his team break through cultural barriers and find common ground to run on in this inspiring true story.
Available on: Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu
This documentary shows the trials of Dolores Huerta, a mother, gender equality activist, and police brutality victim. The woman who first coined the phrase “Sí se puede” uses her voice, unafraid, and makes history by co-founding America’s first farmworkers’ union.
Available on: Amazon Prime Video, Apple iTunes, Google Play