Set on November 22, 1963, the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Judith Ortíz Cofer’s semi-autobiographical short story “American History” is a snapshot of racial tensions in 1960s blue-collar New Jersey. The story first appeared in The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry, Ortíz ’s 1993 acclaimed collection of poetry, fiction, and essays about Latino experiences in the United States. Ortíz ’s work has received many awards and honors, including the American Library Association’s Reforma Pura Belpre Medal, the Anisfield Wolf Book Award, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination.


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Literary Devices

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Deeper Study

Enhance your understanding of “American History” by learning more about Judith Ortíz Cofer and historical background on the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.