Mexican American Arts, Activism, and Education in Austin, Texas

Through exploration of the digital archives, students grades 9-12 will engage in learning about the social, political, economic, and historic factors that affect their communities through these lesson plans and archival materials from the Benson Latin American Collection’s U.S. Latinx holdings. The goal of these lesson plans is to counter the erasure in mainstream media and public school instruction and provide students the opportunity to explore the Mexican American experience. These teaching resources will employ primary sources as focal points to highlight transformative Mexican American leaders and institutions in Austin, Texas.

The materials available here are under copyright and exclusively for use in non-commercial, teaching activities. If you wish to publish these images, please contact Special Collections staff at the Benson Latin American Collection at

About the Project: The lesson plans and the curated digital collections were developed by Cassie Smith, anthropology doctoral student at the University of New Mexico and instructor at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin, Texas as part of a LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Fellowship in the summer and fall of 2018.


Printmaking of the Past, Present, and Future: The Legacy of Sam Z. Coronado

Students will learn about Austin printmaker and arts activist, Sam Z. Coronado.  Lessons contextualize and connect Coronado’s work to the history of printmaking and Mexican printmaker José Guadalupe Posada.  Students will create their own print based on a social/political issue of their choice and compose an artist statement that describes their work. The primary sources presented here are from the Sam Coronado Papers, 1970-2008.

Unit & Lesson Plans      |     Primary Sources

Dr. Américo Paredes: Chicano Studies, Ethnographic Analysis, and Poetic Activism

Students will learn about Chicano Studies pioneer Américo Paredes through his literature and activism. Students will learn about ethnography as a research method and form of analysis. Students will come away with a historical perspective of the value of oral transmission of heritage such as the corrido, oral histories, and poetry. Students will compose a poem or song and combine it with images to create a digital video or interview a family member or community elder to document local history. The primary sources presented here are from the Américo Paredes Papers, 1886-1999.

Unit & Lesson Plans      |     Primary Sources

Juárez-Lincoln University: Community, Space, and Education

Students will learn about Mexican Americans’ struggle to keep and create space and place in their community. Students will learn about Juárez-Lincoln University/Cultural Center and its role in local Mexican American history. Students will create a plan for their own community educational/art space including pedagogical strategies, programming, branding, and facilities. The primary sources presented here are from the Juárez-Lincoln University Records, 1969-1978.

Unit & Lesson Plans      |     Primary Sources

Dr. George I. Sanchez: History of Mexican Americans and their Struggle for Educational Equality

Students will learn about the work and life of educational scholar and activist, Dr. George I. Sanchez. Topics for critical exploration include Sanchez’s educational research, legal assistance, Mexican American organizations, Bilingual Education, Pan-Americanism, and Chicano Civil Rights. Students will make either a hand written/drawn zine or a digital zine based on the students’ preference and availability of materials and technology. The primary sources presented here are from the George I. Sánchez Papers, 1919-1986.

Unit & Lesson Plans      |     Primary Sources

Activism in America: The Economy Furniture Strike

Students will learn about US social movements through the Economy Furniture strike in Austin, Texas.  Students will critically engage with movement materials and create their own social justice campaigns and related campaign materials which may include but are not limited to posters, buttons, pamphlets, and protest signs. The primary sources presented here are from the Economy Furniture Company Strike Collection, 1968-1972, 2004.

Unit & Lesson Plans      |     Primary Sources


Cassie Smith, 2018 LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Fellow & Project Lead

Carla Alvarez, Benson U.S. Latinx Studies Archivist

Daniel Arbino, Benson Librarian for US Latina and Latino Studies

Jennifer Isasi, CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation in Latin American Studies

Joshua G. Ortiz Baco, Digital Scholarship Graduate Research Assistant

Albert A. Palacios, LLILAS Benson Digital Scholarship Coordinator