Hispanic Heritage Month: Organizations aim to celebrate, educate

Carrie George

The Spanish and Latino Student Association and the Latino Networking Caucus at Kent State planned a number of events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on Sept. 15 and continues until Oct.15.

Events planned by SALSA, LNC, Latin Social Dance Club, Sister Circle and the Male Empowerment Network are part of the month of celebrations. Their goal is to break barriers between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.

Hispanic Heritage Month originally began as a week-long celebration in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, according to National Hispanic Heritage Month. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the celebration to a month-long celebration.

Hispanic Awareness Month starts Sept. 15 because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, according to National Hispanic Month. The month also includes Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept. 16 and Chile’s Independence Day on Sept. 18.

“It’s just bringing awareness to Hispanics and Latinos, and letting people know that we’re here, we’re proud to be who we are and we aren’t apologetic about it,” said Liza Henriquez, a senior English major and president of SALSA.

Henriquez said the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month has grown on Kent State’s campus, and this year marks the largest celebration she has seen.

“I feel we have slowly given a comfortable space for Latinos and Hispanics to feel comfortable showing who they are,” Henriquez said.

SALSA and LNC partnered to organize a number of events, such as the Hispanic Heritage Month and Alumni Awards Luncheon and a tailgate to take place before the women’s soccer game Oct. 5.

“Our goal is to get students, faculty and staff to engage with each other as much as possible,” said Iris Mirelez, the chair of LNC.

Aylin Chagolla, a sophomore speech pathology and audiology major and SALSA vice president, helped plan new events for this year.

One event, “I Am Proud to Be,” encouraged students to cover Risman Plaza with chalk and write about who they are proud to be.

“The idea is to emphasize that SALSA is an inclusive organization, that you don’t necessarily have to be Hispanic or Latino to be in SALSA,” Chagolla said.

Moving forward with Hispanic Heritage Month, Mirelez said she wants to involve the Kent community as much as possible.

“We welcome people to come and share with us in the culture of this,” Mirelez said.

Members of SALSA and LNC said any Kent State students are welcome to attend Hispanic Heritage Month events.

“My hope, at least for Hispanic Heritage Month, is to kind of educate people and to open people up to these new experiences and to new people,” Chagolla said.

Events range from themed dinners, sports, performances and presentations.

A full calendar of Hispanic Heritage Month events can be found on the Office of Global Education website.

Carrie George is the diversity reporter. Contact her at [email protected].