“Celebrating the Latino Dream, Achievements, and Legacy,” the city of Los Angeles’ 2012 observance of Latino Heritage Month, got underway yesterday at Los Angeles City Hall, with an opening ceremony held in City Council Chambers.
Latino Heritage Month not only celebrates the rich diversity of Latino cultures, traditions and contributions, but also honors outstanding individuals of Latino descent who have contributed to the advancement of Latinos in the United States and internationally.
Wednesday’s opening ceremonies included a tribute to a group of “accomplished Latino leaders,” and a host of proclamations from city officials.
“These remarkable honorees and their achievements reflect the Latino community’s values of pride, sacrifice, and hope for the future,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “A community as rich and diverse as Los Angeles itself, Latinos through their contributions have been and will remain essential to the success of our great City.”
This year’s “Spirit of Los Angeles” awardees included student activists know as “Dreamers” who are part of DREAM Team Los Angeles, CHIRLA’s Wise Up! and California Dream Network.
“Since 2009, these student activist groups have worked toward responsible immigration reform and to empower undocumented immigrant youth, so that they may become advocates of their own rights in the United States,” according to the press release detailing the city’s Latino Heritage Month activities.
Labor leader Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Los Angeles County Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) received the Hope of Los Angeles Award. As a child, Durazo, the daughter of Mexican immigrant farm workers, traveled from Oregon to California with her parents and nine siblings working in the fields. Today, she represents more than 300 local unions and 800,000 workers in every key industry including transportation/ goods movement, entertainment/ media, services, public sector and retails, health care and communications and more.
The city’s Dream of Los Angeles Award was presented to world-renowned architect and environmentalist Mia Lehrer. According to the city, Leher’s landscape designs use parks, lakes and rivers in ways that create people-friendly public spaces that are ecologically sound.
The festive event, which moved from council chambers to City Hall’s South Lawn, was free and open to the public. Activities included live performances of ethnic and folkloric music, song and dance from Mexico, Central America and Peru.
The city also unveiled the 2012 Latino Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Latino Heritage Month launches a month-long calendar of cultural events; arts activities; free music classes for elementary, middle, and high school students presented by the City of Los Angeles and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) through its Music LA Program; and a Poster Contest open to all Los Angeles County students (grades K-12) that encourages the creation of original artwork based on their interpretation of the 2012 Latino Heritage Month’s theme “Celebrando los sueños, logros y el legado latino – game changers.” Poster competition winners will be notified after September 17, 2012.
A list of all activities and events is available at www.culturela.org