by JANA WILSON
Each year across the United States, National Hispanic Heritage Month occurs from September 15 to October 15. In Bloomington, there’s a long tradition of celebrating the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans in North America, says Lillian Casillas-Origel, director of the La Casa/Latino Culture Center at Indiana University.
Casillas-Origel says she was a student at IU in the ’80s when National Hispanic Heritage Month was a small affair conducted mostly by IU Latino students. “We performed Mexican folk dance at the Monroe County Public Library,” she remembers.
Today, the celebration of Latin culture is a citywide celebration. Many organizations contribute to the programming, including Indiana University, the City of Bloomington, the Monroe County Public Library, and the Monroe County Community School Corporation.
Casillas-Origel says she is especially looking forward to the September 19 keynote address by Dolores Huerta. Along with Cesar Chavez, Huerta led a national boycott of table grapes during the late 1960s and co-founded what would become United Farm Workers. “It has to do with more than farmers, it has to do with human rights and women’s rights,” Casillas-Origel says. She hopes that students will come and hear what Huerta has to say. “I want them to know that a lot of the benefits that they’re reaping came from the Latino leadership from an earlier generation.”
Latino programs coordinator for the City of Bloomington, Josefa Luce, says she is really looking forward to the 14th annual Fiesta del Otoño, which happens Saturday, September 21, during the Bloomington Farmers Market. “It celebrates the richness of our Hispanic/Latinx culture in Bloomington,” she says. “It brings our beautiful diverse community all together.”
Casillas-Origel says that National Hispanic Heritage Month has grown over the years to become an event that recognizes the wide diversity of the Hispanic population from many countries.
“Hispanics have had a presence for a very long time in Bloomington,” Casillas-Origel says. “Even though the population is small, we have families with long roots in the community.”
For more information, visit lacasa.indiana.edu.