Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh brings to life the story of a Mexican-American war hero
José de la Luz Sáenz (1888–1953)—or Luz—believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization. Soldier for Equality is based in part on Luz’s diary during the war. It includes a biography of Luz’s later years, an author’s note, a timeline, a bibliography, and an index.
Although he was an American citizen, Jos de la Luz S enz (1888 1953) was beaten up and denied access to local Texan businesses because his parents were of Mexican origin. He determined to fight back: "Luz knew that knowledge was a weapon that helped you defend yourself against those who were mean to you and ignored your rights." First a teacher, he joined the army and shipped out to Europe to fight in WWI. Quick to learn French, he was promoted to intelligence work, but he was never given a higher rank or more pay. His friendships with other Mexican-American soldiers led him to help form the League of United Latin American Citizens, an organization that advocated for equal rights for Latinx Americans. Characteristic illustrations by Tonatiuh (Danza!) use carved-stone faces and formal, ceremonial postures to represent the characters in this picture book. An inspiring introduction to an underrepresented figure who pursued his lifelong vision for equality and justice. Ages 6 8.