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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

NIU celebrates its 24th El Grito

Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon
Folklórico dancers perform for a crowd Wednesday at the Latino Resource Center at El Grito. El Grito is celebrated on the eve of Mexican Independence Day, but was celebrated in honor of all Latino heritage at the event. (Kaitlyn Lee-Gordon | Northern Star)

DeKALB Food, games and dancing were all part of the 24th celebration of El Grito at NIU and was hosted by the co-ed Latino fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda at the Latino Resource Center.

“El Grito” translates to “the cry” which refers to the call to arms against Spanish rule made by Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican revolutionary leader. The cry of independence sparked a revolution throughout Mexico which has become a tradition to be celebrated on the eve of Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16

Justin Segovia, a senior business major and president of Alpha Psi Lambda, said the event is to celebrate Hispanic culture as a whole.

“El Grito is known as Mexican Independence, but we also celebrate to collab with other countries that celebrate their Latino heritage,” Segovia said. “It shows a lot of our culture. It shows that Latinos and Latinas in general are here on campus – I feel like we need more recognition.”

NIU’s Hispanic students make up 25% of the undergraduate population, which puts the university on a trajectory to eventually become a Hispanic-serving Institution, according to NIU President Lisa Freeman.

The festivities included Folklórico dancers dressed in huipiles, an Indigenous Central American tunic, which flowed with their dance movements. The dance took over the entire street.

While waiting in the Burritoville line, Edith Moreno, a sophomore business major, said El Grito made her feel more connected with her culture. 

“It makes me feel more in touch with my roots,” Moreno said. “Events like these bring the community together. It can also teach people from other cultures who are not Latino to come and experience our culture and learn about it.”

The Hispanic food scene at El Grito included conchas, a traditional Mexican sweet bread, horchata and a variety of fruits were served along with authentic Mexican fare such as savory tacos. Lines for Burritoville’s food truck were so long they zig-zagged across the venue.

First-year political science major, Asia Straughter, said the event allowed for more student connection and recognition. 

“I felt like it was an opportunity to come outside and meet new people,” Straughter said. “It’s important to hold events like these to make our students feel more included, like they have a spot to be themselves.”

El Grito also held games of Lotería and later broke out into a dance competition.

Denise Cortez, a sophomore medical laboratory science major, said she attended last year and returned for the fun and a sense of community. 

“I am part of the Hispanic community and wanted to come. I came last year, and it was a lot of fun, so I wanted to come again,” Cortez said. “I think it’s important because it shows representation in the school especially because there’s a lot of Hispanic people in this school. It just brings everyone together. Just because you’re not Hispanic doesn’t mean that you can’t come, it’s fun for everyone.” 

The next event held by the Latino Resource Center celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month will be Eight Countries One Day: Columbia. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the DeKalb Public Library.

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