Latino Heritage Month Raises Awareness, Hopes to Spark Change

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This month, the Intercultural Center and Swarthmore’s Hispanic and Latino organization ENLACE held lectures, events and performances in an effort to both talk about and celebrate Latino identity. This September’s conglomeration of Latino-centered events is known as Latino Heritage Month.

“I hope that these events can be a source of pride for Latino students and a learning opportunity for non-Latino students,” said Cecilia Marquez ’11, a leader in ENLACE.

Twelve percent of Swarthmore students identify themselves as Latino or Latina, said Marquez. Although Latino Heritage Month’s events are open to the whole campus, ENLACE’s meetings are open only to students who identify themselves as Latino or Latina.

In addition to events such as a barbeque and a movie screening, Marquez said that two of the most notable events were two lectures from prominent women in Latino studies.

Vicki Ruiz, a professor from the University of California at Irvine, came to speak at Swarthmore “about Latino history as United States history.” In her lecture, “she analyzed different key points in American history from the perspective of Latinos,” said Marquez.

Raquel River, currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, also came to speak.

“Both Raquel Rivera and Vicki Ruiz were incredibly engaging and dynamic speakers,” said Marquez.
These sort of lectures, however, are “double-edged”: said Marquez, “I’m excited to learn so many amazing things, but disappointed that the only way I get to learn them is through a special lecture.” And though Marquez said that these lectures were “highly attended,” she added that it was “not surprisingly [by] primarily students of color.”

“While the turnout for non-Latino students was high, the same cannot be said for white students,” said Marquez.

Nevertheless, Marquez believes Latino Heritage Month has been a success—one, even, that she hopes will incite change at Swarthmore.

“All of the events so far have been incredibly fun and empowering,” she said. “I think that the high attendance at these lectures really speaks to the need for Latino Studies and more broadly, ethnic studies at Swarthmore.”


  1. White history month? How about the fact that everything we learn about from preschool to the end of our high school career is mainly focused on white history? Presidents day celebrates… white presidents.

    I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is great to learn about the people who helped found the country we are, for the most part, citizens of. However, we are living in a new era which embraces diversity.

    It is appauling how someone would respond to the one month dedicated to Latino Heritage with a claim for a white history month. It isnt like we are all learning about Latino History in all of our classes. Latino Heritage month is mainly just events people can choose to go to OR not go to.

  2. I’m excited to read that you had such a high attendance! Events like this are key in raising awareness and spreading knowledge of this culture. It’s through events like this, blogs like this, etc that information is passed on.

    Here’s some information I’d like to pass on, if that’s okay…hopefully you can find it useful or know of a loved one you can pass it on to.

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    Definitley check out AARP for yourself or for a relative or client. They’ve got some great benefits, including (but not limited to): Exclusive travel discounts, prescription discounts, retirement planning and free companion membership!

    I hope it’s alright that I commented on your blog — wanted to let them know about the fun video with Cristina and AARP’s great benefits. If you have any further questions,
    please don’t hesitate to email me.

    Isabella Coldivar
    AARP Ambassador

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