NIU celebrates Mexico’s independence

By Jeremy Piscoran and David Matz

Latino Heritage Month at NIU will kick off with an event, El Grito, named after the speech in which the first leader of Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, called the people to rise up against Spain.

Mexican Independence Day is a celebration of this speech and the beginning of the Mexican revolution.

Alpha Psi Lambda is partnering with the Latino Resource Center (LRC) to host El Grito from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the LRC. El Grito is an annual event to celebrate Mexico’s independence, culture and heritage, said Jackie Ramirez , a senior history for secondary education major and PR chair for Alpha Psi Lambda.

“El Grito is being put on by Alpha Psi Lambda to commemorate Independence Day. There will be cultural foods and all other Latin American independence days will be celebrated as well,” said Angélica Mendoza, assistant director of the Latino Resource Center.

“It’s going to be like a social event with music, food and games,” Ramirez said. Local restaurants like El Burrito Loco, Burritoville, Papa John’s, La Salsa and Pizza Hut will be donating food and sponsoring El Grito, said Veronica Zamudio, senior sociology and psychology double major and Alpha Psi Lambda president.

Members of Alpha Psi Lambda will also be donating food, providing music and games for the event. Participants can play Pinata and dance to Latino-themed music, Ramirez said.

Both Zamudio and Ramirez said they are expecting a relatively large turn out this year.

“This is a really big year for El Grito because this is the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence,” Ramirez said. Ramirez explained that Sept. 16 is the real day of Mexico’s independence not May 5, which is a common misconception. The El Grito event kicks off the Hispanic Heritage Month for the DeKalb area, which starts tomorrow and ends on Oct. 16, Zamudio said.

Mexican Independence Day is a special opportunity for people to reflect on Mexico’s history, said Michael Gonzales, Director of the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies at NIU.

“In large Mexican American communities there is an element of sincerity and sense of patriotism around the occasion,” Gonzales said. “People of Mexican ancestry retain many cultural ties to Mexico. They may be a U.S. citizen but the holiday remains a part of their cultural identity.”

Feelings surrounding the holiday are intensified by the fact that Thursday is the bicentennial. “[The bicentennial] is a big deal,” Gonzales said.

Alpha Psi Lambda is trying to restore the excitement of the Mexican Independence Day celebration here at NIU that it had 10-15 years ago, Mendoza said.