Latino Heritage Month (LHM) originated in 1968 in the form of National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the weeklong celebration to its current monthly length, beginning on September 15th and ending in October 15th. The month has the intention of recognizing and celebrating the presence and heritage of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the United States, as well as their contributions to the society and culture of the U.S. In line with this mission, several Latino groups on campus have made it their goal to share this celebration with the whole of the student population of Princeton University.
This year, the events that Acción Latina and Chicano Caucus -the two Latino groups participating in this year’s Latino Heritage Month Committee- organized were designed to maximize impact on the general population of university students, particularly those not cognizant or frequently engaged with the cultures in question. The celebration started on October 4th with the Latino Heritage Month Kickoff Event, at Campus Club. Senior Grecia Rivas (’13) opened the evening by reminding us of the importance of our Latin American heritage, and was followed by Ms. Tennille Haynes, the Director of the Carl A. Fields Center, who gave an inspiring speech about multiculturalism. We closed the night by dancing to the rhythm of Latin American music.
For the first LHM week, we had a very engaging lunch discussion about the Latino and Latin American identity with Prof. Pedro Meira Monteiro (Oct 8th), and the student panel “Intersections of Race and Sexuality” (Oct 9th), an event where student leaders shared their personal experiences with this intersection, drawing distinctions and acknowledging similarities amongst different racial and ethnic groups. We also celebrated our Latino heritage at the Princeton University Art Museum; “Latinos at the Museum” (Oct 11th) included Mexican food and beverages, a special guest performance by Ballet Folklórico de Princeton, and a short themed tour of the Art of the Ancient Americas gallery. To close that week, we had a film screening of “Gun Hill Road”, followed by a talkback with Director Rashaad Ernesto Green (Oct 12th).
We started the following week’s celebrations with a Mexico vs El Salvador soccer match screening (Oct 16th), organized a “Latino Trivia Night!” (Oct 18th) in order to test our knowledge of Latino and Latin American geography, politics, music, arts and literature, and ended the week with an “Indoors Pickup Soccer” tournament at Dillon Gym (Oct 20th). Before fall break, we also encouraged everyone to go to the discussion organized ”Latinos in the 2012 Elections: An Expert Discussion on Research and Politics.”
Finally, we closed the celebrations with a “LHM Variety Show” (Nov 9th), an event where performers from the Princeton Community gathered together to celebrate the Latino culture, dances and music; and a Closing Gala (Nov 10th), our final LHM event consisting of a Latin-American themed dinner catered by Taste of Mexico, followed by a dance party with the band Rumba con Son.