Emotional speech and traditional music encourage cultural pride.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
Students found pride in their heritage — or learned about a different culture — by dancing to traditional folk music and hearing an empowering speech at the Hispanic Heritage Opening Ceremony and Reception Sept. 15 in Loftin Student Center.
Maximo Anguiano, a San Antonio poet, playwright and founder of Independent Creative Services and the Latino Theater Company, gave an emotionally charged speech. The audience responded with cheers, applause and “Yeah!”
Theater program Coordinator Paula Rodriguez introduced Anguiano, calling him “the last renaissance man.”
Anguiano, a self-described public intellectual and creative, spoke passionately about the struggles that Latino-Americans face in their daily lives due to political and social commentary and the lack of historic recognition.
“All those voices are the first to reinstate the images of social and legal construction that Mexicans are illegitimate, but conveniently leave aside or eliminate all together the incredible valor and vitality that we live with on the daily,” Anguiano said.
Anguiano reminded audience members of the strength, power and resilience of their heritage.
“We ain’t no strangers to hard work in the Latino community, I’m sure y’all know that. We can do anything we put our minds to. We’ve always been able to make something out of nothing. Ingenuity and community go together like rice and beans in our households.”
Anguiano reminded those of Hispanic heritage to emphasize the historical importance of their ancestry and echoed the sentiment that they are all capable of greatness.
“We are the indigenous. We are the Inuit, Toltec, the Navajo, Cherokee, Maya, the Inca,” Anguiano said. “We’re brilliant scientists and healers and educators.”
Tallercito de Son, an independent collective that performs music and provides other cultural programs, gave a presentation explaining their initiative to “create community through culture” and “sharing (their) workshops in more academic places” while performing songs of the Son Jarocho style.
Son Jarocho is traditional folk music with indigenous, African and Spanish roots that originated on the Southeast coast of Vera Cruz, Mexico.
The collective invited faculty, staff and students to sing along to lyrics projected on the screen by encouraging a competition to see who could sing louder.
Public administration Professor Sylvia De León encouraged her students to attend the opening ceremony to make sure that she incorporates diversity into her classes.
“I want to make sure students understand our own history as a nation,” De León said.
College President Robert Vela opened the ceremony by informing students that the campus is 60 percent Hispanic, claiming that it “is very reflective of our San Antonio community, which is very important to us.”
Vela announced a new Mexican-American studies program that has been introduced across the Alamo Colleges.
For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit www.alamo.edu/sac/HHM16/.