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People gather to protest Denton’s Day of The Dead Festival

People gather to protest Denton’s Day of The Dead Festival

10/29/2016 DENTON, TX Protestors stand in front of the coffin races with signs at the Denton Day of the Dead Festival. Protestors were hoping to start conversations and educate the public about the historic Mexican holiday and to get the name of the festival changed. Credit: Hannah Breland

People gather to protest Denton’s Day of The Dead Festival
November 01
20:37 2016

MUEVE, a campus activist group that advocates for Chicano rights and spreads awareness about Latin-American issues, united this past Saturday at the Day of the Dead festival with the Hispanic Student Association to peacefully protest.

“The message is that, what you’re doing with this festival is not okay,” English senior David Lopez said. “It’s not representative of our culture.”

Instead of protesting the festival itself, the organization simply wants to see the name of the festival changed and for all relation to the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations to be taken out. They would like to see some form of education on what the holiday is all about, and not an appropriation. But festival organizers stopped their protest short and asked them to leave.

“The goal is to change the name of the festival. That’s really what we want the organizers to do,” Lopez said. “We don’t want to get rid of this festival. We don’t want for people to stop having fun. Just don’t do it with a name that is so sacred to us; a holiday that is so sacred to us.”

Originally, this protest was going to be conducted by members of MUEVE, but they later created a Facebook page to garner some publicity on the protest and invite people to get involved. Hispanic Student Association president Teresa Aguayo was one of the people outside of MUEVE to become involved with the protest.

“Personally, the reason most of the people here are not for immigrants. They’re not here for undocumented Mexicans,” Aguayo said. “Nobody ever comes and helps out the undocumented immigrants, the Mexican immigrants that actually make their lives better, but for a festival that takes advantage of their culture and manipulates it into something that it’s not.”

The main purpose of this protest was to educate people on the holiday. The protestors walked throughout the festival, displaying signs and handing out educational pamphlets to passersby. They also stopped by various businesses and organizations to “educate” them on the festival. Later, they were planning on conducting a guerilla theatre skit.

“I definitely see where they’re coming from,” festival-goer Cat Carpenter said of the protest. “I’m definitely all for [changing the festival’s name] because if it’s affecting them, then it’s something to worry about as a whole. We don’t want to offend any of our citizens of Denton.”

The protestors were met with mixed reactions. Some refused to listen to what they had to say and harrassed them.

“People spit on us,” Aguayo said. “People got really close to our faces to yell at us. People threatened to call ICE on us and a man yelled ‘Donald Trump is going to be elected soon’ as a threat. We were cursed at and told to go back to Mexico.”

Others gladly received their message. Dallas, Denton and Beyond, an area-based podcast, was heading one of the booths present at the festival. It also happened to be one of the booths approached by the protestors.

“I’m a Latina, my mother’s a Latina as well, and we’re both here,” Denton, Dallas and Beyond host Carmen Lipscomb said. “To me, this is just a celebration of life and I think for a lot of people, they may not know what the meaning of the day of the dead is but I think this brings an awareness to it. So I don’t think there’s anything bad about it.”

Featured Image: Protestors stand in front of the coffin races with signs at the Denton Day of the Dead Festival. Protestors were hoping to start conversations and educate the public about the historic Mexican holiday and to get the name of the festival changed. Hannah Breland

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Victoria Monteros

Victoria Monteros

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7 Comments

  1. Tikers
    Tikers November 02, 14:18

    The day of the dead has been celebrated by all people of different religious beliefs & cultures believe in this holiday for thousands of yrs.
    It has been celebrated for a lot of yrs., don’t understand on why people have to criticize it.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Shaida
    Shaida November 02, 16:20

    I agree, organizers should consider renaming the Fest–or meet with the protesters to re-create a vision for the fest. I think organizers are trying to be “edgey” but its just insensitive. I think this is very telling: “The protestors were met with mixed reactions. Some refused to listen to what they had to say and harassed them.” What a poor mis-representation, Denton.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Toots9
    Toots9 November 02, 16:32

    They don’t need to protest lots of Mexicans live there and they need to celebrate their own holiday their own way????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Reply to this comment
  4. Oden666
    Oden666 November 02, 17:02

    Look at st Patrick’s day quit complaining people at least Mexicans still exist look at native American people none of the culture or people are respected….
    casinos don’t represent my people Im not protesting at least people enjoy the day of the dead and celebrate it

    Reply to this comment
    • Vgolan
      Vgolan October 28, 10:25

      Most Mexican Americans are also Native American, I mean they even have a term for it, mestizo. Their is Mayan and Aztec iconography is all over Mexican folk art.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Misty
    Misty November 02, 18:15

    I was also going mention St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and ask if anyone has ever had a green beer on St.Patrick’s day? That’s not how it’s done in Ireland. There are no green beers or rivers died green. Anyone have anything that says “Happy St. Paddie’s Day”? That’s not the correct spelling. Is it worth the debate every time I see something from my homeland misrepresented? Nah. It’s not done out of disrespect. It’s mostly a time when people get together, people of all cultures, and celebrate. Communicate. Drink together. Socialize and perhaps open the cultural lines and everyone become more diverse.
    Perhaps setting up an education booth next year will be a good idea? I was there and no one tried to educate me on anything. Just had the signs out saying what the sign already read.
    On a side note, I am very sorry that these protestors were spit on and confronted in a negative way. That is NOT acceptable!
    Our world needs more tolerance and learning. Not bigotry and hatred.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Stevil
    Stevil October 29, 09:29

    Good God get over yourselves, This is America, it’s not Mexico. You want authentic DOTD, go check it out there. Don’t understand why everything has to please everyone. It will never happen. Just go and have a good time. You want people to know more about your culture, Setup a booth and show people. This country is diverse and you’ll never please everyone, stop trying to change what America is and be happy that in this country everyone can be what they want and come together to have fun.

    Reply to this comment

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