Part 2a: Mexican Americans in World War II and L.A. in the Zoot Suit Era


Activities and strategies to prepare the learner before reading the text.

Prediction Activity

Look at the images below and respond to each prompt.

Image #1: Predict what you think this billboard represents? Explain your response.

Image #2: Who are these people? What do you predict is happening in this picture?

Above Female Zoot Gang Gets Arrested

Image #3: Who are these people? What do you predict is happening in this picture?

Youths charged with murder for the killing of Jose Diaz on Montebello Township Ranch

Anticipatory Guide


  1. Highly prompted by the fashion industry, the Zoot Suit influenced attire became the fashion craze for young men and women, during the 30’s and 40’s.
  2. After serving valiantly for the United States in World War II, service men and women of Mexican ancestry were still denied equal access and equal rights.
  3. Partner dancing was a popular form of social recreation for young people in the 1940s.
  4. Artists of color popularized many new types of music, such as bebop, rhythm and blues, and big band swing.
  5. Luis Valdez was one of the first Chicano composers to write music about the Chicano movement and Chicano life.

Language Connection

  1. Divide students into groups of 4 or 5. Each group will conduct a brief analysis/investigation of a term or name that is important to the understanding of the text. The teacher will assign each group the following:
  2. a. Allies
    b. American G.I. Forum
    c. Axis Powers
    d. Battle of Bataam
    e. G.I. Bill
    f. Cab Calloway
    g. Lalo Guerrero
    h. German Valdés or Tin Tan
    i. Boleros
    j. Jitterbug
    k. Big Band

  3. Students will complete a poster that includes the following:

a. Definition according to Wikipedia, the free online dictionary
b. Definition according to the Zoot Suit Discovery Guide
c. Five important facts
d. Examples, graphics or pictures.

(Suggested Teacher’s Grading Rubric: Each section is worth 5 points for a total of 20. Your neatness and creativity is worth another 5 for a total of 25 points.)

Compare/Contrast Matrix

Before reading the text, students will fill out the compare/contrast matrix on their own style of hair, clothing and important accessories (i.e. hats, gloves, earrings).


Janet Johns, Abriendo Caminos
Migrant Education, Region XI
Curriculum for the Zoot Suit Discovery Guide, 2009