“The government of the republic will fulfill its duty to defend its independence, to repel foreign aggression, and accept the struggle to which it has been provoked, counting on the unanimous spirit of the Mexicans and on the fact that sooner or later the cause of rights and justice will triumph.”
Proclamation to the Mexican people, shortly before the Battle of Puebla of 5 May 1862
The California History Project presented in partnership with the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture to document the many contributions made by Latinos to the rich history of California.
Many people think Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that was brought to the United States by Mexican immigrants in the early 20th century, but it is not. It is not even celebrated in Mexico. It was created and first celebrated by Latinos living in California, in 1862. At that time, the Civil War was ravaging the U.S., and the French had just invaded Mexico with the goal of overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Juárez and replacing it with a monarchy. The majority of Latinos in the U.S. believed in the values of freedom, democracy and therefore supported the Union in the Civil War and President Juárez’s government in Mexico. Since 1862 Latinos have been part of the Civil Rights Movement. Learning about the origins and real history of the 157-year-old holiday which originally was a grassroots celebration by Latinos in the U.S. of civil rights for people of all races and ethnic heritages, connects us together as a society. A permanent exhibit with teacher educational kits was installed in 2016 at LA Plaza De Cultural y Arte Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
Latinos constitute the largest minority ethnic group in the country according to the 2010 U.S. census and are the fastest growing population in the K-12 education system. The youthful nature of the Latino population holds promise for the future, yet the rich history of Latino-American contributions are not reflected in the textbooks used today in California’s classrooms.
The Cinco De Mayo in a Box Educators Kit & Exhibit