We Won't Back Down: Severita Lara's Rise from Student Leader to Mayor

We Won't Back Down: Severita Lara's Rise from Student Leader to Mayor

by Jose Angel Gutierrez

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This straightforward biography of Severita Lara examines her life as an activist in Crystal City, Texas. A childhood battle with rheumatic fever left her temporarily crippled but taught her perseverance in all aspects of her life. A summer working as a migrant laborer at sugar beet farms taught her the value of hard work. All of her childhood lessons were put to the test when she organized the 1969 walkout of Chicano students to protest the school board's unequal treatment. Severita Lara worked with the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) to successfully change racist school policies. She also participated in the formation of La Raza Unida (The United People) with the organization Ciudadanos Unidos (United Citizens). Married young, she traveled to Mexico with her son to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor; but despite her hard work and effort, illness and misfortune derailed her plans. She fought an unsuccessful race to become judge in Crystal City; but then became a city counsel member and later Mayor. A single mother of two sons, she continues to desire change and action in her hometown. Gutierrez, who knew Lara much of her life, lends authenticity to this part of the "Hispanic Civil Rights" series. Forward by Henry A. J. Ramos, executive editor of the series. 2005, Arte Publico Press, Ages 12 up.
—L. F. Wade
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Several chapters cover Lara's childhood and early teen years in Crystal City, TX, including the summer she and her sister spent as migrant laborers. The chapter devoted to the 29-day 1969 school boycott that she organized to bring national attention to equal rights for Chicano students is the most inspiring part of this biography. Lara married her high school sweetheart and had a child before she graduated. After she accepted a scholarship and spent time in Mexico as a medical student, she and her husband parted ways. Eventually they reconciled and the author chronicles their roller-coaster relationship. Lara is an important figure whose rise to political power despite the nonacceptance of her heritage and gender needs to be told. However, this book does not do her justice. The author is a noted writer for adults, but he has not yet found his voice for youth. At times, the writing is choppy and pedestrian and some important details are told after the fact or connecting pieces are left out. Six black-and-white photos illustrate the various stages of Lara's life. An epilogue includes a Web site where readers can learn more and listen to Lara tell some of her story. Purchase this in areas where short biographies of important Hispanic heroes are needed and hope that a better-written volume is yet to come.-Linda L. Plevak, Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
Hispanic Civil Rights Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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