B-CS celebrates Hispanic heritage
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 01:09
Texas A&M students are invited to experience the rich culture of Latin America this month in celebration of Hispanic Heritage.
From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, America will be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. The holiday began as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. President Ronald Reagan extended it to a month in 1988.
“Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua,” said Melanie Krugel, adviser for the Professonal Hispanic Network at A&M. “In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.”
The month celebrates the history and contributions of Americans whose ancestry can be traced back to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South Americas.
Hilda Campos, executive director for the Hispanic Presidents’ Council, said Hispanic Heritage Month is important because it gives Latinos the opportunity to honor heroes and leaders and speak about issues affecting the community.
“During this period, we are also given free reign to showcase the joyous aspect of our culture and the richness of our traditions while also using this time to shed light on deeper issues that particularly affect the Hispanic community in America,” Campos said.
At Texas A&M, students with Hispanic background make up the largest minority group, making the month a unique opportunity for students to grow and learn about one another.
“We are big advocates of Hispanic issues and know the value of celebrating our culture in this great institution and the surrounding community,” Krugel said.
Academic departments and Hispanic student groups have joined the Professional Hispanic Network in planning events. Eleven separate entities have come together to unify Hispanics on campus and display their contributions to the Bryan-College Station community.
Actor Edward James Olmos will speak at the opening ceremony for Hispanic Heritage month Monday night. Olmos is best known for his Academy Award nomination in “Stand and Deliver” and his leading role in “Selena.” He also worked on “Battlestar Galactica,” “Blade Runner” and “Miami Vice.”
Olmos is more than just an actor; he is an activist. He has worked extensively as an advocate for the betterment of the Hispanic community. He is considered by many to be the voice of Latin America in Hollywood, promoting a brighter future for Hispanic youth and racial unity.
“[Olmos] will talk about the importance of the Hispanic heritage and discuss how the Latino community is impacting our country through the media,” said Graciel Rodriguez, senior information and operations management major and MSC committee for the Mexican-American culture chair.
The ceremony will be held in the Bethancourt Ballroom in the Memorial Student Center free of charge. It is expected to have a large turnout and Rodriguez said it will set the tone for the rest of the month.
“It has been the highlight of MSC CAMAC to increase the relationship and cooperation with other groups on campus, and we are looking forward to an amazing month of celebrations,” Rodriguez said.
Olmos’ appearance is preceded by several events setting the stage for his arrival. Thursday featured Latino culture at Caliente! sponsored by the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. Saturday and Sunday focused on the Hispanic community in the B-CS area with the Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas, which featured a parade.
“It’s always great to be able to just get away for a day and spend time with family and friends,” said Jose Luis Zelaya, an education graduate student. “The parade had people in a lot of neat costumes and there was really, really, really great food out there.”
The calendar set for Hispanic Heritage Month includes movie screenings, informational programs, dances and parades. Each event portrays a different aspect of Hispanic history and culture in a way designed to entertain and educate attendees.
“We would like to show how we can impact this campus by creating quality programs throughout the month,” Rodriguez said. “We want to share our culture and would love to see more involvement from non-Hispanics students during these celebrations.”
Information on the upcoming events can be found at the Department of Multicultural Services’ website.