Bunker Hill Community College Wraps Up Major Celebration of Hispanic Heritage
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Bunker Hill Community College celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month 2015 with a series of events that honored the history, arts and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. Events were held at the College’s Charlestown Campus and at its campus in Chelsea, one of the state’s three cities with a majority Hispanic or Latino population.
The celebration began on September 15, with a program commemorating the date in 1821 when the nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica gained independence from Spain after almost three centuries of colonial rule. The interactive program, called “Declare Your Independencia,” invited audience members to mark their diverse countries of origin on a large map. “We are not one color, shape or creed,” said BHCC adjunct professor Carlos Maynard. “That’s what makes us unique.”
The BHCC Library & Learning Commons honored the month with a display of works of literature, art, history and culture, as well as a poetry reading in both Spanish and English featuring the works of Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges and others. Special guest Juan Casillas Alvarez, a teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, read from Lugar Profano, his latest book of poetry.
The Athletics Department celebrated with a program called “¡Muevete!”(Move!),” which included a Zumba class featuring merengue, salsa and boxing moves led by BHCC Zumba instructor Kirby Espinal. BHCC baseball team member Alex Rivera shared his admiration for Puerto Rican-born baseball star Roberto Clemente, the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The College also screened the 2011 documentary Precious Knowledge, by Mexican-American filmmaker Ari Palos. The film tells the story of a group of Arizona high school students who launched a struggle for civil rights when their Mexican-American Studies program was accused of being anti-American. Assistant Professor of English Jessica Barros facilitated the discussion of the film.
Celebrating the community’s arts and crafts, local Latino artists and artisans including Rafael Ayala, Stephanie Castillo, Marianne Ramos, Jason Rivera and Damali Vidot displayed their work at the Chelsea Campus. Edwin Pabon, a mainstay of Latin music in Boston and New England for many years, gave salsa lessons.
A poster show at the College’s Chelsea Campus ran throughout the month, with posters selected from the Stephen Lewis Collection highlighting the International Latino Labor Union, the worker rights movement and the civil rights movement.
Rounding out the month-long celebration, a panel of community leaders came together to discuss key issues facing the Hispanic community. Panelists included Luis Prado, Director, Health and Human Services Department, City of Chelsea; Dan Cortez, Community Engagement Specialist, Chelsea Police Department; Alberto Calvo, Owner, Compare Enterprises; Alba Rivas, Partner and Owner, Chelsea Discount Stores (and former BHCC student); Rich Cuthie, Executive Director, Chelsea Chamber of Commerce; and Gladys Vega, Executive Director, Chelsea Collaborative. The group engaged students in a discussion of the opportunities that education brings, and how Bunker Hill Community College and the city of Chelsea collaborate to make opportunities accessible. To see photos of the events, visit bhcc.edu/hhm.
About Bunker Hill Community College
Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts, enrolling approximately 18,000 students annually. BHCC has two campuses in Charlestown and Chelsea, and a number of other locations throughout the Greater Boston area. BHCC is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts. Sixty-five percent of the students are people of color and more than half of BHCC's students are women. The College also enrolls nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.