Our outreach team recently partnered with Instituto Cervantes of Albuquerque, the Mexican Consulate of Albuquerque, the Spanish Resource Center of Albuquerque, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center to put together a workshop for teachers, discussing how to incorporate the Mexican Revolution into middle and high school classrooms.
Frankly, I had no idea how difficult it is to learn about this cataclysmic event in Mexican history.
Plainly, the Revolution meant—and continues to mean—different things to different people. Diverse groups with contradictory goals were involved in the fight against Porfirio Díaz. Those who took up arms were farmers, miners, professionals, artisans, businessmen, and career soldiers. Some clung tightly to abstract principles such as “liberty,” while others demanded labor protections or the immediate restoration of indigenous lands. Some sought only to rid the community of the local hacendado, while others reacted in principle against three decades of Díaz’s ironclad rule. Folks routinely traversed armies or switched sides altogether. Alliances formed and fragmented. With few exceptions, the leaders of the Revolution were assassinated or exiled by political opponents.
Some of the stories are almost unbelievable: Mid-Revolution, the United States invaded Veracruz because Mexico’s recently-installed dictator refused to offer a 21 gun salute to the American flag—without a corresponding salute in exchange; Álvaro Obregón lost an arm in Celaya and had it sealed in a jar of formaldehyde and mounted in a museum for over 70 years; Pancho Villa and his Dorados attacked Columbus, New Mexico, in the only successful land invasion against the US in the twentieth century.
To help teachers and students navigate the complexities of the Revolution (and get to the really good stories), PBS has created a fascinating website called “The Storm that Swept Mexico.” The site includes short videos on various topics, an extremely helpful “faces of the revolution” resource, and a link to a neat Facebook quiz that will tell you whose army you would have joined (Katrina and I turned out to be more Villista than we expected). I particularly recommend the “faces of the revolution” resource to learn about the Revolution’s well-known participants and to help visualize the Revolution’s network of allies and enemies.
Also, feel free to check out the Educator’s Guide that we made and handed out to teachers who attended the workshop.
Have a good weekend,