Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

The culture and contributions of Hispanics, and their impact on American society, will be on display in Youngstown beginning the middle of this month.

The Youngstown State University Hispanic Heritage Planning Committee, through YSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, has scheduled a plethora of events that go through November.

Co-chairwomen for this year’s activities and programs are Grimilda Ocasio and Gloria De Los Santos.

This year’s theme is “Sin Fronteras: Uniendo Nuestras Culturas,” translated Without Boundaries: Connecting Our Cultures.

“Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration gives each of us the opportunity to celebrate our culture, our traditions, our customs and share it with our friends, family and the community,” De Los Santos said.

“We also want to raise awareness of the many similarities and differences among the Hispanic cultures in the [Mahoning] Valley,” Ocasio added.

Ocasio said the committee is excited about the visit of Rosita, a Muppet with Sesame Street, to the main branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County at 1 p.m. Sept. 22. The main branch is at 305 Wick Ave., Youngstown.

Rosita is Sesame Street’s first bilingual Muppet, fluent in both Spanish and English. She is from Mexico and likes to play the guitar, according to the Sesame Street website.

Contact Debbie Liptak from the library at 330-744-8636, for information on Rosita’s visit. This should be a no-brainer for parents with small children.

I will highlight a few other events in an effort to get you to spend some time becoming better acquainted with the country’s largest minority group.

The celebration starts at noon Sept. 13 at the Mahoning County Courthouse rotunda, 120 Market St., downtown Youngstown. The annual flag ceremony representing 22 Hispanic countries and musical selections is scheduled.

Mayor Charles Sammarone and Yulanda McCarty-Harris, director of YSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, will give remarks. Dr. Consuelo Mendez, a local internist, is scheduled to give the keynote address.

Students in grades seven through 12 participated in the Hispanic Heritage Month Art Competition. Entries will be displayed at YSU and throughout the community through Oct. 15.

Students were requested to submit artwork that reflects this year’s theme. The winning entry will be featured on the cover of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month program booklet.

YSU’s Maag Library will serve as the venue for the “Notable Latinos” exhibit beginning Sept. 15. Items from the library’s collection feature contributions of renowned Latino authors, poets, musicians and painters. The exhibit will be on the library’s main floor and continue until Oct. 15.

On Sept. 19, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Jose Galvez will give a lecture and showcase his photography skills with a presentation called “Among My Travels: A Photographic Journey” at Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, better known as the Steel Museum, 151 W. Wood St.

For years, Galvez, a Mexican-American, has used black-and-white film to create a historical record of the Latino experience in America. In 1984, he was on the Los Angeles Times team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latinos in Southern California. The exhibit opens at 4 p.m.

Educators and Community Helping Hispanics Onward is having two free college fairs as part of the monthlong celebration.

ECHHO is a collaborative network of educators and community leaders who provide awareness and access to educational opportunities — college fairs, scholarships, job placement and workshops — for the empowerment of Hispanic/Latino people.

The goal is to prepare Latino youth for leadership.

The fairs will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26 at Boardman High School, 7777 Glenwood Ave., and 9 to 11 a.m. Sept. 27 at Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana, 3660 Shirley Road in Youngstown.

OCCHA is the primary social-service organization that focuses on the needs of the Latino community in Mahoning County.

The fairs will provide answers to students and their families about selecting and applying to college, as well as tuition costs and financial aid.

Visit www.echho.org to find out more about the organization and its goals.

For information on the fairs, contact Maggie McClendon, ECHHO vice president, at 330-941-3243, or email her at mmcclendon@ysu.edu. McClendon is YSU’s assistant director for diversity recruitment and admissions.

On Oct. 6 at YSU’s Kilcawley Center, Chestnut Room, there will be entertainment, dancing and a variety of food. From noon to 3 p.m., the public will see animals from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, kids will have a chance to experience a variety activities, vendors will be on hand, and the local Latinas United Networking Association will have a scholarship presentation.

The second annual community nonviolence parade and rally is set for 3 p.m. Oct. 7 beginning at YSU’s Williamson College of Business and ending with a rally in downtown Youngstown.

OCCHA will have its 40th annual celebration and fundraiser from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Nov. 2 at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Centre, 7440 South Ave., Boardman. Tickets cost $50. You can call OCCHA at 330-781-1808 for information.

Visit the YSU Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity website — www.ysu.edu./div_ysu/ — for a complete list of all Hispanic Heritage Month events, or call the office at 330-941-3370.

I hope to see you at one of them.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com

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