Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 to October 15

The calendar said it was time to send out a resource document for Hispanic Heritage Month. We created a committee, reviewed the documents we sent out last year, made a few modifications, and changed the date. We were ready to go.

Except we weren’t.

One member of our team had been silent through most of the meeting. When he finally spoke, he reminded us that we were working to become an antiracist department and that required us to stop and reflect on our practices. He pushed us to remember that our work had to be developed with an understanding of the current sociopolitical context and a knowledge of our history. He believed that our document would meet our technical goal of getting a resource out, but not our adaptive goal of actually making a difference.

When Edvin was done speaking, we made a collective decision that although we had commitments to several other projects and would most likely not get this done by September 15, we needed to scrap our old work and start from scratch.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi says in his book, “How to be an Antiracist” that being racist and antiracist are not “...fixed categories or tattoos. Literally what we're doing in each moment determines who and what we are in each moment.” We in the Equity Initiatives Unit need to be vigilant to be antiracist at all times. And, we need to ensure that we have the processes and relationships in place to be called out when we are not.

Latino children make up one third of our students. In case we needed reminders of systemic inequities, the Washington Post published on July 14, 2020, that 74 percent of new covid-19 patients in Montgomery County are Hispanic. What is our responsibility as MCPS staff to stop what we are doing, and take the time to reflect on whether or not our practices and policies are truly antiracist?

In this edition:

We organized this newsletter with our definition of an antiracist educator in mind. You will see:

  • Several opportunities to hear voices from students and staff
  • A section on the history of Latinos in the United States and a section on learning about Latin America with a focus on Central America
  • Suggestions for books, movies and TV programs that highlight the diverse cultural experiences of Latinos
  • Resources for you to take action and change practice

If you don't have a lot of time, at least listen to a couple of the videos from MCPS students and staff.

With graditude,

Troy, Daryl, Deanna, Edvin, Ericka, Joan, Maniya, Marya, and John

Reflections on Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

by Edvin Hernandez, MCPS Equity Initiatives Unit

Our colleague, Edvin Hernandez says, "I have been tasked to write this article while being brief and positive, but I do not know how to get there....The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others this spring 2020 have caused so much pain and civil unrest in our country. On top of it, many of our students have lost loved ones and neighbors to COVID-19. Our students are dealing with a lot this 2020, and it is difficult to be brief or positive."

Please listen to Edvin's article and then use the following questions for reflection:

  • How did Edvin's story make you feel? Why?
  • Are there references in Edvin's story that you want to learn more about? For example, he mentions two writers and talks about his reflections on labels such as Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx.
  • Edvin writes, "In no other place but this one of inquiry are we faced with so many questions about who we are. They fall like cascades creating confusion and desire to make sense of it all." What does he mean? How is this similar or different from your own experience?
Chicano Legacy Mural

Voices From MCPS

We sent a few emails to some colleagues and students with a request for them to share their perspectives for Hispanic Heritage Month. They had two days to respond! We could not have expected the powerful submissions that you will see and hear when you click on Voices from MCPS. We felt so privilaged as each new story arrived in our emails with videos done at kitchen tables, a poem, a racial biography, and an original song. We are grateful for the generosity, vulnerability, and beauty of our colleagues and students.

Understanding their stories requires us to explore our experiences as well. If you haven't done so already, we encourage you to go through our Cycle of Socialization online module. We'd love to hear what you discover.

We hope that you will listen to these stories with your colleagues and share with your students. Please use the following questions to reflect:

  • How are these stories similar or different from yours?
  • In what ways do the stories provide you opportunities to make connections to the experiences of your Latino students or colleagues?
  • What are some implications for your practice in connection to the educational experiences of your Latino students or colleagues?


Antiracists are aware of the historical context of where they work, teach, or lead. What do you know about the 500 year history of Latinos in North America? This documentary documentary chronicles "the rich and varied stories and experiences of Latinos in the United States who have helped shape North America for more than 500 years. As you watch, reflect or discuss the following questions: What suprised you? What confirms your experience or challenges you? How will learning change your practice?

Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Did you know that African Americans were not the only people of color in this country who attended segregated schools? The Mendez family efforts helped bring about an end to segregated schools in California in 1947. This was seven years before Brown v. Board of Education. These are stories many of us do not know, but they speak to how individual actions can impact others' opportunities and access.

The first video is a reading of a picture book about Sylvia's life. The second video is a documentary.

Latinx Film, Books & TV

Expand your cultural awareness by watching movies and television programs that are written by Latinx writters or focused on Latinx actors and stories.

Latin American Film Festival

Now in its 31st year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival is one of North America's largest and longest-running showcases of Latin America cinema. While the AFI Silver Theatre remains temporarily closed, this year's festival has been re-imagined as a vibrant virtual showcase, featuring international film festival favorites, award winners, local box office hits and dynamic debuts from a new generation of Latin American filmmakers. Click her for more information.

Latinx TV Shows Available to Stream Now

Latinx Movies and Documentaries Available to Stream

20 New Fall Books From Latinx Writers

Latin America

Latin America consists of 20 countries, 14 dependent territories and more than 652 million people. Quiz yourself. Name a poet, an artist, or scientist from Latin America. Do you know a popular song or folk tale? Can you name most of the countries on the picture to the left?

The resources below could be used to spark conversation as a team or you can go through them on your own.

  1. Watch and discuss the music video Latinoamerica.
  2. Play the Kahoot on Central America
  3. Review and use the resources from Teaching for Change

Before you watch this music video, take a moment and picture Latin America in your mind. What do you see? Compare the images in your mind to those you see in the video. If you are doing this as a team, have a conversation about your reactions.

The largest percentage of Latino students in MCPS have roots in Central America. What do you know about Central America? Teaching for Change says, "the lack of resources in most schools on Central American heritage make the rich history and literature of the region invisible."

  • Test Your Knowledge Kahoot Game by playing this Kahoot game with colleagues or students. Have some discussions about each item.
  • Click on Teaching for Change for lessons, book lists, biographies of noted historical figures, and readings for free use by leaders, staff, and classroom teachers.


In his message above, Edvin Hernandez wrote "In no other place but this one of inquiry are we faced with so many questions about who we are. They fall like cascades creating confusion and desire to make sense of it all." Several of the pieces in the Voices from MCPS also talk about being questioined about their idendity.

Explore the videos below to learn more about race and idendity.

Hispanic vs. Latino vs. Latinx

Race and Identity

A Conversation With Latinos on Race

My Identity is a Superpower -- Not an Obstacle | America Ferrera


Dr. Joan's Gems

Each month, Equity Initiatives Instructional Specialist, Dr. Joan Mory, will provide new, specific resources (articles, strategies, videos, techniques, activators, etc.) that can be used at meetings, in planning, and in the classroom. They will address different themes associated with learning and leading.

The focus this month is instructional strategies and “think abouts” that address our Hispanic and Latino students in the classroom.

Joan writes, "Culturally responsive teaching and inclusive classrooms validate students’ existing knowledge base and experiences. This foundational culturally responsive teaching practice affirms and uses what students already know and can do and enhances the acquisition and retention of new information and knowledge."

Ted Talks

Victor Rios: Help for The Kids That the Education System Ignores

Classroom Resources for Elementary School

Equity Tools, Modules & Resources

The Equity Initiatives Unit has many resources for any type of equity work. Please visit https://bit.ly/MCPSEquityResources to find what you need including resources for: culturally responsive parent engagement, how to engage students in conversations on race, planning effective meetings, how to be an antiracist, and much more.

Contact the Equity Initiatives Unit if you don't find what you need.

Equity Matters Dialogue

Join the conversation with our Equity Matters Dialogues. Sign up on PDO.

Anti-Racist e-Books and Audiobooks Available for MCPS Students to Borrow

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students and staff can access anti-racist e-books and audiobooks through the Sora app, MCPS’ digital eBook and audiobook platform from OverDrive, without any wait time until late September.

Created By
John Landesman