Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month

September 13, 2021

SIU’s Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month celebration begins Wednesday

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale is commemorating Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15 with a variety of special events and presentations, including the premiere of a documentary created by an SIU student and a special art exhibit by an SIU alumna.

“Esperanza: Celebrating Hispanic/Latinx Heritage and Hope” is the theme for the 2021 celebration. As “esperanza” means “hope” in Spanish, organizers expect the month to be a celebration of the Hispanic/Latinx people, their history and accomplishments, as well as a harbinger of a more diverse, inclusive and eclectic future.

World movie premiere, special exhibit opening

The kickoff event, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Morris Library, begins with the premiere screening of “Footprints in the Sky” in the John C. Guyon Auditorium. The documentary is by Daniel Rodriguez, a third-year of the Master of Fine Arts student in mass communication and media arts. The recipient of a Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarship, Rodriguez previously worked as a filmmaker in Mexico City and won the Audience Award at the 2015 Mexico City International Documentary Film Festival.

Daniel-Rodriguez-sm.jpg The film, Rodriguez’s master’s thesis project, tells the stories of some of the first Purépecha families to settle in the Cobden area. Rodriguez shares their struggles, their visions, their migratory adventures and their family updates, interwoven with footage of monarch butterflies. Tradition has it that spirits of the migratory butterflies guide the people in their migrations across the content. Rodriguez notes that as migrants have faced their own struggles, the monarch butterfly population has declined dramatically in the last 20 years. Catch the trailer for the movie online.

Juana-Charicata-Duran-sm.jpg Juana Duran Charicata, an artist and 2015 art education graduate from SIU, is one of the Purépecha featured in the production. A display of her artwork, entitled “NATIVAS, Colores Purépecha” is featured in the library rotunda during a reception at 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 15. A native of Cheran, Michoacan, Mexico, Charicata immigrated to the United States in 1995 and helped her family pick fruits and vegetables to make a living. Now an art teacher at Peace and Education Coalition Alternative High School in Chicago, her artwork encapsulates her Purépecha roots, culture and indigenous traditions. The “Nativas” exhibition features paintings depicting the power and beautify of the indigenous people and their lives.

Charicata and other people featured in the film plan to be on hand for the film, exhibit opening and reception. The film, reception and exhibit are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required. The exhibit will remain in place at the library throughout the month.

“This year we really want to showcase the abilities, creativity and projects of SIU’s talented Hispanic/Latinx students and alumni,” said Cristina Castillo, coordinator of the university’s Hispanic/Latino Resource Center. “We also want to engage community members with experiences that will help them learn more about our culture and our people and create a greater sense of cultural competence, respect and regard for one another. Having the opportunity to share our culture is wonderful, but we also want to acknowledge the inclusiveness of the region and that the Hispanic/Latinx culture is already very embedded into the fabric of SIU and Southern Illinois.”

Traditional events set

The month will feature a variety of events highlighting the culture of Hispanic/Latinx people through music, dance and other activities.

Plans include:

  • A salsa-making workshop, 5-6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, with all ingredients provided to create the tasty treat. The online registration deadline is 8 p.m. Sept. 15 unless filled sooner.
  • Piñata making workshop, 6-8 p.m., Sept. 22. Everything needed to make a piñata is provided. The deadline to sign up online is 8 p.m. Sept. 20 or when all spots are filled.

Both workshops are hybrid events offering 30 in-person spots in the Student Services Building, Rooms 150-160.  In addition, anyone can join the presentations via the links on the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center’s Facebook page

  • A School of Music guitar festival brings two nights of concerts to the Old Baptist Foundation Recital Hall, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23. The first night’s classical guitar performance is by Marcus DeJesus, a native of Brazil who is a professor of guitar and general music at Clark University and Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Moacyr Teixeira Neto, an award-winning guitarist who is the artistic director of Acordes Centro de Música e Artes and guitar professor at the Faculdade de Música do Espírito Santo (FAMES) in Centro, Vitoria, Brazil will perform the second night.
  • Festival Latino, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Washington and Main Street stage in downtown Carbondale will feature live music by the Radio Free Honduras Band. The event is sponsored by the city of Carbondale, Southern Illinois Culture and Arts in Bilingual Education (SICABE) and several SIU student organizations.

Castillo encourages people to attend the free multicultural concert during SIU’s Family Weekend, noting that her hope is that it and the many other activities throughout the month will help bring people together in shared understanding and communication.

Financial, business expertise shared

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the College of Business and Analytics is also hosting a pair of virtual events via Zoom. “Financial Health in a Post-Pandemic World” is set for 5 p.m. Sept. 21 and features Nashira Lynton, a first-generation Panamanian American, who was $60,000 in debt even after completing her MBA and struggling in spite of her job on Wall Street. Lynton will discuss her approach to breaking the debt cycle and share how others can achieve financial health.

The second Zoom event, “Being Hispanic in Business: Identity, Influence and Impact” is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5. A panel of Hispanic business leaders will share their inspirational stories and how they are able to impact their communities. For more information about either presentation, email Jennifer Butler at Jennifer.butler1@siu.edu.

Both of the events are free and open to the public.

Other enlightening activities include panel discussions, an informational presentation on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, discussions on the intricacies of Hispanic/Latinx identity, a movie night and more.

Light of hope

The festivities conclude with La Luz de la Esperanza (The Light of Hope), a celebration event with music and refreshments, is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the Student Services Building, Rooms 150-170.

To learn more

Find the complete schedule of events and additional information at smrc.siu.edu/hrc. All activities are free and open to the public.

SIU is committed to protecting the community, so all those attending Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month events must follow current campus and state pandemic safety protocols and wear masks in shared indoor spaces.  

The month-long celebration is a collaborative, cross-campus effort and sponsors include: the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center, the College of Arts and Media, the School of Music, Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority, Gamma Phi Omega, the Delta Phi Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi, the SIU Latin American Student Association, the Multi-Greek Council, the SIU School of Medicine chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association, the city of Carbondale, the United Nations Association of Southern Illinois, and the Southern Illinois Culture and Arts in Bilingual Education.