Hispanic heritage month brings citizens together

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COLUMBIA - Four full weeks will be filled of celebration events dedicated to Hispanic heritage.

Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is national Hispanic Heritage month.

Many local Hispanic based organizations are coming together to emphasize what they have in common. This year, MU's Latino Graduate of the Professional Network organization is partnering with VOZ Latina to put on a month long list of activities opened to the community.

Other local organizations include Lambda Theta Phi, Latin Fraternity, Inc., Association of Latin@ American Students, Association of Latin@ American Students, Association of Latin@ American Students, and the MU Multicultural Center.

President of the Latino Graduates of the Professional Network, Moises Aguayo said Hispanic heritage month is the celebration of all the Latino and Latina cultures from the United States and abroad.

"That's Spain, that's Mexico, that's Costa Rica, that's Nicaragua, that's Colombia, that's Peru... that's even countries in South America like Brazil and Argentina," Aguayo said.

Although they all have a similarity in an aspect of culture, Aguayo said the Hispanic community is still very mixed when it comes to certain ideas like political beliefs. He said a lot of Hispanics and Latinos identify with republicans, democrats, and even some independents.

With the Republican debate about immigration on Wednesday, he said he can imagine there are some differences in the emotion within the local Hispanic community; however, this month is about putting those differences aside.

"But this month specifically we want to celebrate what makes us one. One community. One family," Aguayo said " These issues do affect us because they have a presence in our lives but this month we're focusing on what brings us together."

Aguayo said these issues are still important to them, and it's still part of their heritage. Although the local Hispanic community is focusing on celebrating this month, they won't ignore the current issue altogether.

"A lot of times we [local Hispanic organizations] don't want to be involved with the politics between them," Aguayo said. "But we want to inform people who aren't informed of the issues that are surrounding, and how they affect our lives."

VOZ latin@ will present a guest speaker in October to discuss some of the surrounding issues with immigration in the community and in the United States. He said this way they still have a voice to speak about the issues that are currently affecting the country.

Aguayo said this month he invites the community to celebrate with them even if you do not identify with Hispanic, Latino or Latina. He said the goal is to celebrate the communities' uniqueness. 

"We welcome all communities, ethnicities, races and orientations of all the people," Aguayo said. "Involvement in activity especially in the Columbia community is important."

He said one way to get involved is to come to their events. These events range from live poetry, to lemonade stands, to bingo night.

The first event is on Wednesday afternoon in the Shack on MU's campus. The event, Grito de Mexico, is to celebrate Mexico's independence, and kick off Hispanic heritage month. 

There will be plenty more events to follow. For a detailed list of events and dates visit vozlatina.missouri.edu