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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Textbooks are light on Latino history -- except for Sonia Sotomayor

U.S. history textbooks don't include much about Latino Americans, concludes a report by Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and UnidosUS.

Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic named to the U.S. Supreme Court, is in all the history textbooks.

The team analyzed five high school U.S. history textbooks and one AP U.S. history book.

Only 13 percent of topics were addressed in depth, and the only Latino first is Sonia Sotomayor's appointment to the Supreme Court, which made all the textbooks.

Despite coverage of Latino activism during the civil rights movement, Latinos usually aren't framed as historic actors, the analysis found. They're often see as "passive recipients of U.S. government action," writes Sarah Schwartz in Education Week

Several states have revised their social studies standards to include more Latino and black history, or to exclude "anti-racist" theories, she writes.

The Johns Hopkins report calls for teaching Latino history as part of American history.

John Leguizamo's "American Historia" will show "the untold history of Latinos" in the U.S.

On the popular culture front, John Leguizamo's VOCES American Historia: The Untold History of Latinos, a three-part series, will debut on PBS this fall. A comedian, actor and writer, Leguizamo observes was born in Colombia and raised in New York City.

Latinos are 20 percent of the U.S. population, yet "my son can't see himself in history textbooks," he complains.

Leguizamo is positive about the future of "the divided states of America," he said at a PBS conference. “It’s the divided states of America. How do we continue and move forward as a democracy? We need to embrace each other. We need to forgive our differences; we need to celebrate each other’s differences. . . . we work better when we're all together.”

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