UPDATE Sept. 21: Hispanic Heritage Month calendar available – bit.ly/FSN-HispanicHeritageMo15Cal

(September 15, 2015) — Fresno State will kick off its observance of Hispanic Heritage Month with Bienvenida 2015 (welcome) in the Peace Garden from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 — the 205th anniversary of Mexican Independence Day — and the announcement of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association to present “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History.”

The grant funds several events beginning with the free, public screening of the documentary, “Foreigners in Their Own Land,” from 6-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Arte Américas in downtown Fresno (1630 Van Ness Ave.).

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will also be on campus to give a talk on the future of voting in California to invited guests for the Maddy Institute in the Vintage Room at 12:45 p.m.

The month-long observance culminates with the California Latino Leadership Education Summit   Oct. 29-30.

The free, public Bienvenida event Wednesday, which will be at the Cesar Chavez Monument in the Peace Garden, is presented by the Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association, a campus organization committed to advocating and supporting Latina/o faculty, staff and student issues.

It will feature an information fair with more than 51 student organizations and campus programs, music, refreshments such as Horchata, paletas, chips and salsa and bottled water, a performance from Fresno State’s Mexican folkloric dancers, Los Danzantes de Aztlan, and a drawing for prizes.

Dr. Joseph I. Castro, the first Latino to serve as Fresno State president, and Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president of academic affairs, will deliver remarks from 11:45 am. to 12:20 p.m. followed by Los Danzantes.

At the Bienvenida, the Mexican Consulate will present an official Mexican flag to Fresno State and LFSA. Consul Fernanda Camara will present the flag to Provost Zelezny at about noon.

The Bienvenida event covers several cultures from the Americas and their historical events, beginning with the independence of the United States on July 4, 1776 through the September 19, 1981 independence of Belize.

On Sept. 15, four Central American countries celebrate their independence: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates the anniversary of the start of its fight for independence from Spain that began September 16, 1810.

Congress established Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to reflect on the history, culture and contributions of Americans with cultural ties to Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Now some of that history will come to campus through the $3,000 programming grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.

Fresno State is one of 203 organizations selected to participate in the programming.

Other events planned through the grant later in the semester are screening of another “LATINO AMERICANS” documentary and discussions, a lecture on Latino Children’s Literature and a dance performance related to the theme, said Dr. Maria Aparecida-Lopes, chair of Chicano and Latin American Studies and history professor who will lead a discussion at the Sept. 19 screening.

The grant was awarded to her and  Dr. Andrea Johnson, history professor, and Vang Vang of the Henry Madden Library.

“The objective of the documentaries and related activities is to raise awareness about the past and present of Latinos highlighting their contributions, struggles and aspirations, and by doing so, to add to a larger conversation about the largest minority of the U.S.,” Lopes said.

Fresno State is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the United States Department of Agriculture. A Hispanic-Serving Institution is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as a non-profit institution that has at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent enrollment.

In fall 2014, 10,049 Latino students were enrolled, making up 43.4 percent of Fresno State’s student body. Latinos made up 18.9 percent of the University’s 2,245 non-faculty employees.  Of 1,361 faculty positions, 11.8 percent are held by Latinos.  

For a full schedule of events, see bit.ly/LFSA-Bienvenida15.

For more information about the Bienvenida, contact Dr. Victor Torres, Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association president and professor of Chicano and Latin American Studies, at 559.278.4115. For the grant, contact Lopes at 559.278.8808.

(University Communications news assistant Erika Denise Castañon contributed to this report).

Related Links:


Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association

University among top 25 in awarding degrees to Latinos

Latino University Experience’ forum seeks input for plan of action

Hispanic Heritage Month Calendar – pending