A local education group that focuses on improving Latino education achievement also is trying to help the community learn more about the Latino culture by hosting a public festival.
The second annual Mexico Independence Day event is 4 to 8 p.m. Friday on Fourth Street, between Jackson and Washington streets. The event is hosted by the Community Education Coalition and its Latino Education and Outreach Program.
Eliminating Latino education achievement gaps, creating an information network and aligning Latino education programming are goals of the outreach program. They act as a pathway to the education system by offering mentoring and internship initiatives for older students, and working on English fluency with younger, preschool students, said Luz Elena Michel, Latino Education and Outreach Program manager.
The coalition’s Latino education group decided last year to create the event to share some of the Mexican traditions with the community and to increase awareness of and appreciation for the Latino culture already established in the area, Michel said.
“This event is important to the community as an opportunity for intercultural exchange and understanding,” she said. “Diversity in a community helps us to grow as individuals and opens our minds to different ways of life.”
The festival holds personal importance for Michel as well, she added, because she will pass on her cultural heritage to her son Eduardo.
In Mexico, Independence Day, also known as “El Grito,” is traditionally celebrated with food, parades, festivals and bell ringing. The local celebration will be similar.
The free, family-oriented event offers authentic Mexican food and drinks for purchase, music, folkloric dancing, face painting and crafts. Last year’s event saw 150 guests, and the Latino education group hopes that number will increase this year, Michel said.
“We want to believe that, with this event, we are going to be able to connect with other communities, share traditions, music, food and have a wonderful time,” Michel said.
Sept. 16 marks the day more than 200 years ago that Miguel Hidalgo gave the “Cry of Dolores,” or “Grito de Dolores,” that sparked the war for Mexico’s independence from Spain, Michel said.
A misconception exists in the United States that Cinco de Mayo, May 5, is Mexico’s Independence Day. Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates Mexico’s victory against French forces in 1862, she added.
What: Mexico Independence Day event
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Fourth Street, between Washington and Jackson streets
Why: Increase awareness and understanding of Latino culture
Cost: Admission free; costs for food, drinks