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Latino Heritage Month begins Thursday

September 14, 2011
Novelist and poet Ana Castillo

Novelist and poet Ana Castillo

Every fall semester from Sept. 15 through Oct.15, the Latino Resource Center (LRC) and the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) organize academic, social, cultural and professional events for the NIU student body and community to celebrate Latino Heritage Month.

Latino Heritage Month recognizes the richness and diversity of Latino culture and history in the United States and Latin America. This year’s activities will highlight Latino music, art and history.

All events are free and open to the public.

The celebration kicks off with “El Grito,” the traditional commemoration of Mexican independence, from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Latino Center, 515 Garden Road. The event features food, games and prizes.

This year’s keynote speaker is the critically acclaimed novelist and poet Ana Castillo, who will speak from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in the Visual Arts Building.

Castillo joins a list of distinguished keynote speakers for Latino Heritage Month celebrations, including Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, and Rigoberto Menchú, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

This year other featured speakers include Emilio Kourí, professor of history and director of the Katz Center for Mexican Studies at the University of Chicago, who will discuss the Mexican agrarian reform, and Louis A. Pérez Jr., the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History and director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina, who will analyze the Cuban Revolution.

Cultural events include a play by the Chicago-based Teatro Americano titled “Equanimity” and a dance party featuring NIU Latin jazz musicians. Panel discussions will explore educational opportunities in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and a workshop on pursuing graduate degrees.

NIU students stand outside the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies/Latino Resource Center

“We are really excited to bring these events to campus. One of our goals is to expose students in the campus community to the Latino culture and to hopefully ignite their interest to stay connected,” said Sandy Lopez, assistant to the director of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. “We hope that the students and community will take advantage of the diversity of the events being offered this year.”

A complete schedule of the time and locations of events is available online.

The Latino Resource Center is one of several campus cultural centers and part of the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. The Center for Latino and Latin American Studies is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Call (815) 753-1531 or (815) 753-1986 for more information.