National Hispanic Heritage Month

10-05-2005

At the Board meeting in September, I announced that Michigan State University is joining others around the country in observing National Hispanic Heritage Month between September 15 and October 15.

Recognizing various groups’ shared cultural identities and experiences has been an important characteristic of our society for as long as this country has existed.

And we celebrate, not despite our differences, but because of them, and how they bring a strength and a richness to the vast tapestry that is our nation.

As part of a society that has embraced millions of newcomers from every corner of the globe, this is an opportunity for all of us—Hispanic and non-Hispanic alike—to reflect on the experiences of and the contributions made by this dynamic and growing segment of our population.

Bringing it closer to home, MSU is observing Hispanic Heritage Month with events like the forum on immigration last week at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. It brought together scholars, students and a film director to screen the award-winning film, “The Gatekeeper” about a U.S. Border Patrol agent, and to discuss the political, economic, educational, and civil rights impact immigration has on our country.

And on October 5, a jazz composition by MSU Jazz Studies instructor Diego Rivera, honoring national labor pioneer Dolores Huerta, will premiere in a special concert at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. The event will benefit the Mexican American Culture Endowment in Memory of Pedro Rivera, Professor Rivera’s father, who worked as a migrant farm worker in Calhoun County before earning a medical degree at MSU. Tickets will be available at the door.

One of the things that makes MSU a great place is that so many different people come here from so many different places, backgrounds and perspectives. Celebrating our heritage and connections to ancestors and the places they called home—whether in the distant or recent past—really helps to enrich the cultural understanding of the entire university community, helps us to see things from others’ points of view.

With that in mind, we must accord full respect and civility to those whose backgrounds and views are different than our own and we must embrace the diversity that makes East Lansing and our university community something special: a place where people want to come, to live and to work, and to build an even better, brighter tomorrow for generations to come.

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