Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off with weekend events

Wren Murphy, Diversity Reporter

The Hispanic Heritage Month, running from mid-September to mid-October, finished its kickoff with music, food and games aimed at bringing together Hispanic and non-Hispanic members of the community.

  Bienvenidos a Brookings, an organization that welcomes Spanish-speaking people into the community, sponsored the final event of the kickoff weekend in Pioneer Park Sept. 15. The event brought together people from the university, Brookings and other local community members.

 “It’s good just to have events between Hispanic and American culture and have that exchange of cultures,” said Marisol Galvan, a member of the organization and an interpreter for the event. “It’s good just to be around the community and … feel like we belong in the community.”

 Bienvenidos a Brookings provides English classes, cultural education and some basic immigration services to members of the Hispanic community. Currently, the organization offers English classes in Flandreau and Elkton, but not in Brookings.

 Patty Bacon, a city councilwoman and deputy mayor, said she believes events like this are important for maintaining a welcoming atmosphere and helps “dispel negative stereotypes about different groups.”

 The Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff began with a speech by Yvonne Denis Rosario at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13. Rosario is a black Puerto Rican author who aims to tell the story of black Puerto Ricans, which, she said, have been both historically and currently subject to discrimination.

 “I wanted to demystify the history of afro-Puerto Ricans and show them in a revealing, positive light,” Rosario said, according to the translation. She said it was important for black Puerto Ricans to be able to share their stories.

 “The biggest thing we can do is open spaces to those voices,” Rosario said. “It makes a more complex, complete history available.”

 The other kickoff event was a Latino dance Sept. 14 in Jack’s Place in the Union.

 There will be other on-campus events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the next few weeks, including a screening of “Stolen Education” in the Lewis and Clark room Sept. 20 and several speakers. A list of events is on the Office of Multicultural Affair’s webpage.