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Institute for Latino Studies plans celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month

| Friday, September 15, 2017

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) will be hosting six celebratory events on campus beginning Sept. 21.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a 30-day period starting Sept. 15 that is dedicated to recognizing contributions made by Hispanic and Latino American citizens. Though the ILS hosted unofficial celebrations for it in the past, this year the organization is formally acknowledging the dedication through a variety of official events.

Luis Ricardo Fraga, the director of ILS, said the Institute’s formal acknowledgment is intended to help everyone at Notre Dame better appreciate and understand the presence of Latinos in local and national communities.

“[The month] is very important given how much misunderstanding there often is of Latino communities and what their growing presence means in the United States,” Fraga said. “Hispanic Heritage Month is one way to try to focus on all of the positive contributions that Latinos and Latino communities can bring to Notre Dame.”

According to the ILS’s website, the recognition will begin with a lecture on Sept. 21 titled “Agnostic Harmony and Transformation.” After four other events — including a special lecture with the Archbishop of Los Angeles and a musical performance by a Grammy Award-winning Chicano band — the campus-wide celebration will end on Oct. 12 with a theatrical performance centered on environmental justice in Central America, the website said.

“By showing how many different events our Institute is sponsoring, we’re hoping to influence the University to consider formally acknowledging and celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month next year and for the foreseeable future,” Fraga said. “We think the University would be very supportive of this effort.”

With about 11 percent of Notre Dame undergraduates identifying as Latino or Hispanic and the group’s growing presence both on campus and nationally, Fraga said he sees ILS’ celebration of the month as the “start of a tradition” he finds consistent with the origins of Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame was established to ensure that all communities, and particularly Catholic working-class immigrant communities, were able to take full advantage of the opportunities that existed in the United States,” Fraga said. “Today the largest group of immigrant, predominantly Catholic communities in the United States are Latinos, so we see this as entirely consistent with the entire mission and call of Notre Dame.”

ILS’ Communications Specialist Evelyn Gonzalez said the events will be open to all who are interested in attending.

“We’re assuming most of our audience are going to be from the Notre Dame community, but we are actually reaching out directly to the local high schools, local parishes and Latino community in general,” Gonzalez said.

Senior Gregory Jenn, president of the Latino Student Alliance, said he believes the ILS-hosted events are a wonderful representation of how rich the roots of Latino culture are.

“I regard celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month as an essential component of being a Latino student on campus because I am able to share what I am most proud of with the wider community at large,” Jenn said. “It’s a way to construct a dialogue that is necessary for the continued cultural, spiritual and academic growth of the University.”

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she served as Editor-in-Chief at The Observer for the 2019-20 term. She is pursuing majors in political science and television with a minor in journalism. // Twitter: @KelliSmithNews

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