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Carlos Munoz, professor emeritus of ethnic studies at University of California, Berkeley, a founder of the Mexican American civil rights movement and author of numerous pioneering works on the Mexican American political experience and on African American and Latino political coalitions, will deliver the keynote address for Lafayette’s fourth annual Latino Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) celebration. The theme for this year’s program is “El Poder de la Cultura: Voces, Visiones, y Tradiciones” (“The Power of Culture: Voices, Visions, and Traditions”).

“The celebration of Latino Heritage Month is an essential part of American culture and identity in the United States,” says Michael Benitez Jr., dean of intercultural development and director of the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center. “Historically, Latinos/Latinas and Latin-Americans have been a large part of the molding and shaping of American culture, so it is important that we as a nation understand the influence Latin culture has had and will continue to have in the fabric that weaves this nation together.”

Munoz will deliver his address, “Latinos and the Struggle for a Multiracial Democracy,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 at Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 104. The event is sponsored by Lafayette’s Presidential Speaker Series on Diversity, the Office of Intercultural Development, College Programming Board, and Hispanic Society of Lafayette. A book signing will follow the address. Munoz also will participate in a brown bag discussion, “The Influence of Latin Music on American Culture,” with jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill noon-1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 in Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall.

Born in the “segundo barrio” of El Paso, Texas, and raised in the barrios of east Los Angeles, Munoz is the son of poor working-class Mexican immigrants. He is a nationally recognized expert on the issues of ethnic and racial politics, multiculturalism, immigration, and affirmative action. His book Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement won the Gustavus Myers Book Award for “outstanding scholarship in the study of human rights in the United States” and was a major resource for the 1996 PBS series “Chicano!: History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement.” A syndicated columnist distributed by the Knight-Ridder news wire service, Munoz has appeared on PBS, NBC, ABC, CBS, Univision, and Telemundo.

Munoz was a leading organizer of Faculty for Human Rights in Central America, Faculty Against Apartheid in South Africa, and Rainbow Coalition. He served on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and helped found the Institute for Multiracial Justice. He was a key adviser in Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign.

His many accolades include listings in Who’s Who Among Hispanic Americans, Who’s Who of Editors, Writers, and Poets, and Latino Encyclopedia. He is a recipient of the University of Michigan’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Rosa Parks Award and the National Association of Chicana & Chicano Studies’ Scholar of the Year Award. The American Political Science Association honored him in 2001 for his contributions to the study of Mexican American and Latino politics.

To explore the importance and diversity of Latin art, the month’s events include an exhibition by artist-in-residence Rolando Rojas, a brown bag lunch on Latin music’s influence on American culture, Latin jazz and flamenco performances, and a poetry jam.

An exhibition titled Latin-American Vision: Graphic Works from Central Mexico will feature master printmaker Rolando Rojas in the Black Cultural Center Gallery Sept. 15-Nov. 12. The public can meet the artist at his reception 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the center, 101 McCartney Street, and 10 a.m.-noon. Thursday, Oct. 13 while he is working with art students in the College’s Experimental Printmaking Studio, 421 Hamilton Street. Portlock Gallery is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

O’Farrill and his Riza Negra sextet will perform their unique brand of on-your-feet Latin jazz 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 at the Williams Center for the Arts. Riza Negra features horns, conga, and timbales. Cost is $15; student admission is free. For tickets, call (610) 330-5009.

Flamenco Vivo will celebrate legendary choreographer Carlota Santana 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 at the Williams Center for the Arts. Spain’s finest dancers and musicians showcase the fiery and emotional traditions of flamenco. “…no-holds-barred flamenco…These dancers broke open like flames dancing along the stage, with outright fireworks for the tableaux finale,” says The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cost is $25; student admission is free. For tickets, call (610) 330-5009.

Spoken word artist Louis Reyes Rivera will visit Lafayette for a poetry jam 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at the Farinon College Center snack bar. A bridge between the African and Latino American communities, Rivera is a professor of Pan-African, African American, Caribbean, and Puerto Rican literature and history. His work has been featured in numerous publications and television specials including ALOUD: Live from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO.

Latino Heritage Month began with a screening of the film Fresa y Chocolate Sept. 7; the Hispanic American League of Artists Latino Film Festival, featuring Soldados and Discovering Dominga Sept. 11; and six weeks of Latin dance instruction in merengue, mambo, salsa, and tango, starting Sept. 8 and ending Oct. 13. Events are open to the public and free of charge except where indicated:

  • Sept. 15 (Visions): Latin-American Vision: Graphic Works from Central Mexico, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Sept. 15-Nov. 12, Portlock Black Cultural Center, 101 McCartney St.
  • Sept. 15 (Voices): Keynote address by Carlos Munoz, 7 p.m. Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 104. Book signing to follow.
  • Sept. 16 (Voices): Chaplain’s Office Brown Bag Series: “The Influence of Latin Music on American Culture” with Carlos Munoz and Arturo O’Farrill, noon-1 p.m. Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall.
  • Sept. 16 (Traditions): Arturo O’Farrill y Riza Negra concert, 8 p.m. Williams Center for the Arts. Cost: $15 (Lafayette students free). Tickets: (610) 330-5009.
  • Sept. 19 (Traditions): “The Tradition of Pinatas,” noon-1 p.m. Farinon Center Central Atrium.
  • Sept. 20 (Visions): Latin American Cinema Series: Central Station, 7 p.m. Skillman Library room 206.
  • Sept. 23 (Traditions): Fiesta Latina, 11 p.m.-2 a.m. Farinon Center snack bar.
  • Sept. 27 (Traditions): Flamenco Vivo featuring the choreography of Carlota Santana, 8 p.m. Williams Center for the Arts. Cost $25 (students free). Tickets: (610) 330-5009.
  • Sept. 28 (Traditions): Dominoes tournament, 8-10 p.m. Marlo Room of the Farinon Center.
  • Oct. 7 (Voices): Poetry jam with spoken word artist Louis Reyes Rivera, 7:30 p.m. Farinon Center snack bar.
  • Oct. 10 (Voices): “Voces, Visiones, y Tradiciones” panel discussion with students, faculty, and administrators representative of various ethnicities within the Latino Diaspora, noon-1 p.m. Marlo Room of the Farinon Center.
  • Oct. 11 (Visions): Artist reception with Rolando Rojas, 4-6 p.m. Portlock Black Cultural Center Gallery, 101 McCartney Street.
  • Oct. 15 (Traditions): Noche de Cultura: an evening featuring five-piece multi-genre (merengue, bachata, bolero) band La Orquesta Tropical, Latino cuisine, art, and decor, 7 p.m. Farinon Center Atrium.
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