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It's the Latinos, Stupid

John Leguizamo schools us on Latino history.

John Leguizamo


John Leguizamo is giving Latinos the Hamilton treatment—minus a rapping Thomas Jefferson. The Colombian-born actor, who grew up in New York sensing Latinos had been largely excluded from U.S. history textbooks, is ready to set the record straight with his one-man show Latin History for Morons, opening July 1 at the Berkeley Rep.

The premise of the show is that you’re teaching your son about the influence of Latinos on American history. Was this inspired by real life?
I’m always trying to teach my kids about Latin history. I read an article a few years back that said 14 percent of Latino kids drop out of high school, and I know why: It’s because you never see a Latino hero figure in history. When I started doing research, I was astounded at the lack of any mention of Latinos in this country.

What is the most negligent omission?
The Civil War. There were 10,000 [Mexican Americans] fighting for both the North and the South. You know us Latins: We go wherever people pay us. We fought in every single war, from Vietnam to World War II—even the War of 1812. And nobody can remember what that war was even about. But you never hear any mention of Latinos.

Why Latin History for Morons?
I’ll be frank with you: It was Latin History for Dummies for a while, and all of the sudden, the For Dummies company called my lawyers. And so I changed it to “Morons.” But I’m including myself in this moronic-ness. We’re all moronic together.

Latin History for Morons plays at the Berkeley Rep July 1–Aug. 14. Get tickets here. 


Originally published in the July issue of San Francisco

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