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Denton Rec Center holds Hispanic Heritage Month event

Denton Rec Center holds Hispanic Heritage Month event

Denton Rec Center holds Hispanic Heritage Month event
September 18
11:15 2022

The Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center held its second annual Hispanic Heritage Month event on Saturday, celebrating with several speakers and a theme of  “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”

Recreation manager Cheylon Brown greeted the families and Denton community members who came to the event. The halls leading to the conference room were lined with colorful, decorated tables from local vendors and organizations supporting the event.

“For me, my whole life revolves around diversity, and I believe that we as people will grow when we stop worrying about our differences, focus on our similarities and begin to make positive impacts in our community,” Brown said. “The MLK Center is trying to build a bridge, moving us from just being focused on things that Dr. King did, to being representative of our community that surrounds us.”

In Denton, 25 percent of the population is Latino, as well as over 30 percent of Denton Independent School District students. Keynote speaker Lilyan Prado-Carrillo works as a bilingual specialist at Alexander Elementary and spoke about her life and the importance of celebrating and embracing Hispanic heritage. 

“We can make a difference, and we don’t need to wait to inspire our children we can do that now,” she said. “It’s not just my story that I want you to take away today. I want you to look at all the things we have contributed as a community to this country, to Texas, to Denton. But I also want you to remember that there are lots of people still trying to get here so they can live out that American dream.”

Prado-Carrillo said Hispanic Heritage Month is split between September and October due to the dates of various countries’ independence days. Sept. 15 is Guatemala’s independence day, Mexico’s is on Sept. 16, and other countries such as Chile celebrate in the following days. She talked about the importance of educating children on true Hispanic history and culture, and said what is taught in schools is often one-sided. 

“Not everything we read in U.S. history textbooks is the full story,” Prado-Carrillo said. “Until we get more representation, we have to go out there and we have to get it for ourselves. As parents, we have to find ways to educate our children so they can grow up proud of who they are.”

Prado-Carrillo also shared her personal journey crossing the border and being an undocumented immigrant in the United States. Due to the sacrifices of her family, she was able to get an education and build a successful life for herself. 

“I wonder, how many people weren’t so lucky?” she said. “Why did I get this opportunity, and why did I make it? We can sit here and judge, or we can sit here and try to understand why these parents do this. I know this is a celebration, but this is a call to action for all of us.”

Humberto Romero, president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the university, was in attendance and said he is passionate about his work with the organization and helping other Hispanic students achieve their goals. 

“Our goal at UNT is to show students that they have a community, and if we’re doing it, they can do it,” Romero said. “I moved [to the U.S.] when I was 13, so I had the language barrier when I moved, and I had a lot of people help me get to where I am today. That’s why I put so much into SHPE, and I believe in what we do.”

Image source: The City of Denton

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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