Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa, the Latino Cultural Center, believes that National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month occurring at the beginning of the school year is an excellent opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to come together and build connections within the Latinx community. “It’s a great way to start the semester,” Casillas said. “It is exciting to have so many people continue programming for the month and help contribute to building connections so quickly.”
Running from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
Eight Latin American countries celebrate their independence during the month. On September 15, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua celebrate their independence from Spain. In addition, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.
Last year the planning committee, which includes representatives from the campus and city, chose to adopt the term National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to be more inclusive. “Identity terms are very personal,” Casillas said. “but this change tries to be more inclusive.”
Programming for the heritage month begins with an open house at La Casa from 4 to 6 p.m. on September 15. “It’s going to be very informal,” Casillas said. “It’s an opportunity for students and non-students to visit the center to connect and further rebuild our ties with each other. We had a great turnout during our welcome week open house, and we’re excited for this one as well.”
Partnering with the LGBTQ+ Culture Center, a keynote address by Gabby Rivera begins at 7 p.m. on October 13 in the IMU Whittenberger Auditorium. Rivera, the author of Juliet Takes a Breath and writer of the Marvel series America (superhero America Chavez, the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero), often addresses issues of identity and representation for people of color and the queer community within American popular culture.
“I’m 55, and I still love Marvel,” Casillas said. “We also read Gabby’s book for a book club in partnership with the Latinx Cultural Centers at Purdue University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign last year. During one of our meetings, my counterpart from Champagne mentioned they wanted Gabby to speak on their campus. And that’s when I realized I wanted to have her speak at IU, too. So that got the ball rolling.” She goes on to say, “joining with the LGBTQ+ Center on this event is a wonderful way to showcase the intersectionality between Latinx and LGBTQ+ populations and support LGBTQ+ History Month.”
Additional programming includes faculty talks, festivals, and cultural activities for students, staff, and faculty to enjoy. For a complete list of events, please visit the IU calendar.