Sharing Family Stories
When brothers Armando and Carlos Peña set off to carry their mother's ashes to south Texas in Calavera Highway, their road trip turns into a quest for answers about their family's strangely veiled past.
The Peña discover many new family stories on their journey. How can you learn more about your own family's stories and about Mexican American history?
- Find ways to tell and record your important family stories. At a family reunion or event, set aside time to tell and discuss the significance of the stories. Consider planning ways to share the stories with future generations and/or sharing them with an oral history archive.
- Ask your school district what they teach about Mexican American history and culture, including information about labor policies, deportations, and the school walkouts of the 1960s. Work with teachers and school officials to integrate accurate information into the curriculum and to help schools establish connections to resources -- for example, speakers, websites, historians and so on -- that might aid them in their efforts.
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
Calavera Highway takes viewers on a multilayered journey that explores the multigenerational experience of American-born descendants of immigrants and illustrates the extremely wide range of possible responses to adversity. Its poignant portraits provide an excellent springboard for rich discussions of family relationships, male identity, psychology, culture, history and public policy.
This lesson plan is for use with the film Calavera Highway, which follows the road trip of two Mexican-American men who reunite with their five brothers and try to piece together their family's history. Classrooms can use this lesson to connect the family experiences of students to larger events or periods in history.
This multimedia resource list, compiled by Debby DeSoer of the Ellensburg City Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the P.O.V. documentary Calavera Highway and recommended books and magazine articles about the history of Mexican people.