Music, Film, Art, and Storytelling Headline Hispanic Heritage Month at the Island University

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From a celebration honoring the work of the late Dr. Hector P. Garcia to the Las Muralistas community painting event, Hispanic Heritage Month at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is a time to reflect and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of Hispanics with the wider Corpus Christi community.

Starting with a festive kickoff on Sept. 12, the monthlong itinerary includes nearly 30 events that are free and open to the public. Programming is overseen by the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, which works to provide a balance of educational and cultural highlights for the benefit of the entire South Texas community. 

The HHM Committee consists of more than a dozen faculty and staff members from around campus and is led by Hispanic Heritage Month Coordinator Andrea Montalvo-Hamid, Professional Assistant Professor of English.

“As a native of Corpus Christi, planning events that will appeal to the community is not only important to me, but necessary,” Montalvo-Hamid said. “I think people forget that Latino history is part of United States History. Holding these events celebrates our heritage and educates students, faculty, staff, and the community about the facets of Latino culture. Also, we help Latino students feel validated. We show them that our stories matter, that our rich and complicated cultural heritages matter, and that we have every right to occupy spaces we were not allowed in the past.”

The Celebration’s signature events include the HHM kickoff, the Dr. Hector P. Garcia presentation on Sept. 18 by Dr. Michelle Hall Kells, Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of New Mexico, and the Pioneers in Film Making screening featuring films by early 20th century Mexican American filmmakers Antonio Rodriguez Fuentes and Josefina Barrera Fuentes

A new event for this year’s Celebration is the Las Muralistas Community Painting event on Sept. 20.

 “This year, we reached out to three alumnae – Mayra Zamora, Sandra Gonzalez, and Monica Marie Garcia – to design a mural inspired by their experiences on campus,” Montalvo-Hamid said. “Everyone in the community is invited to attend the community painting day on Friday, Sept. 20, to help paint the mural, which will be displayed in the University Center upon completion. We are excited to feature these local muralists, who have many murals and art around the city.”

Nationally, the celebration was launched by President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 before it was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, when it was enacted into law, according to the National Hispanic Heritage Month website

A new tradition began last year when the Mariachi de la Isla teamed up with Alcorta’s Compañia de Danza Folklórica to present a showcase at the Performing Arts Center. Dr. Rai Morales, Associate Professor of Trombone and Musical Director of the Islander Trombone Choir and Mariachi de la Isla, said the collaborative performance was well-received.

“Last year, the committee paired our two programs into one show, and the response from the 800-plus audience members was amazing,” Morales said. “From then on, we all agreed that this would become a yearly collaboration. We hope that even more people will be able to make it out to this year’s Mariachi & Folklorico Showcase.”