8 Ways HSIs Are Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

By Stephanie Mayo

This week, we are highlighting special events occurring at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month takes place annually from September 15th to October 15th. This month celebrates Latin-American cultures and contributions of Latin@s while also spreading awareness of the institutionalized discrimination the Latin@ population continues to face. Let’s see what HSIs do on their campuses to celebrate!

1. Union County College (NJ)


Union Count College kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Union County College begins their Hispanic Heritage Month with an opening ceremony to highlight the string of events that will take place on campus. The opening ceremony raises all the flags of Latin-American countries and has a traditional music group perform and educate the audience of the meaning behind their music and dances. This year features Los Pleneros de la 21, a NYC group that performs the African-descent and Creole aspects of Puerto-Rican folk music. The group will perform Bomba and Plena, which are musical genres that can be traced to and comment on Spanish colonization, the forced migration of African slaves, and the dwindling of the native Taíno people together.


2. Western New Mexico University (NM)


Mariachi: Fiesta De la Gente Event

Western New Mexico University started Hispanic Heritage Month this month with a Mariachi Concert series titled, “Mariachi: Fiesta De La Gente” (Party of the People). Mariachi, renowned as a music genre in Mexico, symbolizes the cultural fusion between the Spanish who conquered Mexico and the conquered Aztecs and Mayans. Most of the instruments utilized in Mariachi music originate from Spain. However, what is produced using these instruments is strictly Mexican. The messages Mariachi bands communicate relate to the experiences, beliefs, and successes of the common people in Mexico. Essentially, Mariachi music reveals the new identity of Mexico and other Latin-American countries that were established due to colonization.


3. Nova Southeastern University (FL)


Piece of Art Displayed in Diversity of Art Exhibit

Nova Southeastern University opened their Hispanic Heritage month with an art exhibit, “Opening Reception: Diversity in Art!,” that celebrates the diversity of art across Latin@ America. This year, the art exhibit displays Argentinian and Puerto-Rican works of art. This exhibit demonstrates the wide ethnic and cultural diversity of Latin America. Although both Argentina and Puerto Rico have incorporated outside cultures due to Spanish colonization and the history of the African slave trade, both have have their distinct cultures reflected in their art.


4.   Tarrant County College (TX)


Last Week’s Baile Folklórico Performance

A Baile Folklórico (folk dance) group, Ollimpaxqui Ballet Co, Inc.,  performed last week to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at Tarrant Country College. Although the group specializes in Mexican Ballet Folklorico, Baile Folklórico is actually prevalent across Latin-America. Many countries and regions within those countries have their own version of folk dancing, such as Columbia and Chile. Baile Folklórico combines aspects of the culture, past, religion, and beliefs into the rhythms and movements of the dancing.


5. Estrella Mountain Community College (AZ)


Cesar Chavez Leading Farm Workers

This year’s theme of Hispanic Heritage Month at Estrella Mountain Community College is “Dream. Empower. Lead. One special event that expresses concisely their theme is the Cesar Chavez Luncheon that honors the virtuous life full of activist, Cesar Chavez. Chavez organized Latin@ and Filipino farm workers to strike, boycott and fast for higher wages, farmer bargaining rights, comprehensive medical care, pension plans, environmental protection, and much more. Because Cesar Chavez strove to increase the work conditions of the heavily marginalized farm workers, the Cesar Chavez Luncheon serves as a moment to celebrate the accomplishments of the Latin@ population while drawing inspiration to live a life full of social advocacy.


6. California State University, Chico (CA)


Where the Conference will Begin

During Hispanic Heritage Month, California State University, Chico will host its “Dreaming Without Boundaries” conference. The conference informs the campus and community of the importance of supporting undocumented students due to the unique challenges they experience in higher education. Topics range from covering myths and facts about undocumented students to supporting mental and health wellness. The event is significant because time is dedicated to addressing the needs of a underprivileged portion of the Latin@ population.


7. University of Texas at El Paso (TX)

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 12.13.25 PM

Project Performing on Latina Feminism

In October, the University of Texas at El Paso will host a performance on Latina feminism titled, “Latina Feminism: Performing Gender and Questioning Identity.” Due to the double exclusions that Latina women can often face, Latinas have created their own space where the intersectionality of descending from Latin-America and identitying as women is highlighted. Increasingly, Latina Feminism has incorporated the additional intersection of being queer. The Latina feminism event depicts the accomplishments Latinas have had in voicing their experiences of oppression.


8. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TX)


Dolores Huerta Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2011)

To conclude Hispanic Heritage Month, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will hold a Dolores Huerta Event where Dolores Huerta will talk about her life. Dolores Huerta is renowned for her dedication to advocacy for the rights of farm workers and women. With Cesar Chavez, she led farm workers to organize to increase their quality of life. Within the farmers’ movement, Huerta also challenged gender discrimination. After decades of advocating for farmer workers, Huertas shifted to focus solely on women’s rights, specifically the rights of women of color. Her shift occurred after she experienced a violent beating by a San Francisco police officer in 1988 for advocating peacefully. Dolores Huerta founded her own foundation in 2002, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, a high honor among activists.

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