Stephen Pitti is a professor of history and American studies at Yale University, where he is the inaugural director of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration. He is the author of The Devil in Silicon Valley: Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Northern California (2003) and American Latinos and the Making of the United States (2012). As a member of the National Parks Service advisory board, he chairs the National Historic Landmarks committee and serves on the Latino scholars panel. As a public historian he advised the Peabody Award–winning series "Latino Americans" on pbs and the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History project organized by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. He is an editor for the Politics and Culture in Modern America book series at the University of Pennsylvania Press and a member of the editorial board of the U.S. Latino Oral History Journal. He chaired a White House committee on LGBT history in 2014; he has worked with secondary school teachers and high school students around the country; and he serves on the board of directors of Freedom University in Atlanta, a school founded to serve undocumented residents of Georgia. He has also contributed expert reports to ongoing court cases in Arizona related to both immigration and ethnic studies.
As their number and influence have grown around the country, Latinas and Latinos have played a more important role in debates about the past. This lecture explores the role of these communities, and of Latina/o scholars and public historians and elected officials, in defining local, national, and international discussions of American history.