In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson began the observation of Hispanic Heritage Week as a way to honor and show respect to American citizens of Hispanic and Latino descent. President Ronald Reagan extended this to a month by law on Aug. 17, 1988.
Spanning Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, many Hispanic and Latin countries, such as Mexico, Chile, Honduras and Costa Rica, celebrate their independence. This month also includes Columbus Day on Oct. 12, which is celebrated in relation to Spain.
The Marlin Chronicle spoke with Liz Brisson, the president of the Spanish Language and Culture Club, to discuss what the importance of this month is and how it pertains to VWC, as well as events happening to celebrate Hispanic and Latino culture around VWC.
What events are taking place during Hispanic Heritage Month?
Brisson: Well, there have been movies (Spanish & with subtitles) every Friday afternoon through December the 2nd. They celebrate various facets of the Hispanic culture through various time settings and storylines. Also, the Spanish Language and Culture Club (SLACC) is taking the Lighthouse’s bus trip to D.C. this Friday. We plan to visit the indigenous museum and eat an ethnic lunch. Also, we plan to have a paint night for Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday, around the end of October.
Has the club been able to build membership over the past year?
Brisson: Yes, we have seen a lot of interest on campus. We are always welcoming to more members, even if they do not speak Spanish or have Hispanic descent.
What is the importance of the club and Hispanic Heritage Month?
Brisson: The following is our mission statement and I believe it best encapsulates what SLACC is all about: We strive to create an environment where the richness of numerous Hispanic cultures is accurately portrayed and celebrated. By hosting events, sponsoring panels and discussions, and creating a space where all can feel welcome, we hope to promote understanding and encourage acceptance of the Hispanic people and culture. Whether someone is a major/minor in Hispanic Studies, of Hispanic heritage or simply enjoys learning more about the culture, we welcome all in our campus and community with open arms!
Furthermore, I believe that Hispanic Heritage Month allows members of the Hispanic community to showcase their pride and educate about their culture. It provides a space for the rest of the world to observe and enjoy their rich heritage.
Do you think the school does a good job with showcasing diversity, specifically towards the Latino/Hispanic community? Why or why not?
Brisson: Since VWC is a small college, the number of Hispanic students is disproportionately smaller than those of other races. This only means that awareness has to be raised even more. VWC has been very open to sponsoring events and activities that celebrate and support Hispanics on campus. The Lighthouse has been of particular help in finding grant money, coordinating events and providing space to enrich and grow the Hispanic population on campus.
Do you think having events that celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is beneficial? Why or why not?
Brisson: Hispanic Heritage Month is of utmost importance. It is a time for not only Hispanics, but their allies of all races, to gather and enrich themselves in the history and tradition of their culture. Events are a vital part of raising that awareness. If the people are not educated, ignorance of the Hispanic community will prevail.