Rally kicks off National Hispanic Month

By Carol Ekstrom

Despite chilling temperatures, yesterday’s National Hispanic Month rally in the King Memorial Commons was a success.

Proclamations were read by NIU President John La Tourette, DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow and DeKalb County Chairman Robert Hutcheson proclaiming April as National Hispanic Month for NIU and the DeKalb community.

La Tourette said Hispanics play a large part in the community and the United States. He also praised NIU’s role in providing Hispanic students with opportunities to learn more about their culture.

“I support and commend Hispanic Month,” he said. “This is a great learning experience for all students who participate in the upcoming events this month.”

Sparrow said the diversity in the DeKalb community is an added strength.

“Hispanics play a vital role in the different cultures in the DeKalb community and the nation,” he said.

Hutcheson echoed the remarks of La Tourette and Sparrow, and added that young people should speak to their grandparents while they have the chance to learn of their heritage.

A performance by the dance group Danca Quente at the beginning and end of the rally provided spectators with a taste of Hispanic culture.

President of Danca Quente David Marquez said the group chose a song for the finale that had a hidden meaning behind it.

“The moral of this song is to have people accept you for what you are, not what they want you to be,” he said.

Student Association Senate Speaker Mike Starzec urged Hispanic students to be patient with those who don’t know their culture and to be teachers to them.

“If we can inform the campus that Hispanic heritage is much more than Spanish 101, then this month will be successful,” he said. “Out of the light of ignorance will come the light of knowledge.”

Alice Rioseco, chair for the committee of NIU’s Hispanic month, said she could not have organized the month’s events without the help of the committee, University Programming and Activities and other organizations on campus.

“This year we worked closely with the Campus Activities Board and the Student Association,” she said. “Their experience and knowledge of the university has made this year even more of a success.

“It has been a great opportunity for me to come out and learn about my culture,” Rioseco said, who is a senior journalism major.

The theme of National Hispanic Month, “Reflecting upon the past, preparing for the future,” is evident in many of the events scheduled this month.

A panel discussion April 15 will address “The Quincentennial, a cause for celebration?” There also will be a conference on April 23 about the early encounters between Europeans and Indians in Latin America.

Also, a Hispanic Recognitions Award will be held tonight at the Holmes Student Center Heritage Room at 7 p.m.