On Saturday, September 29th, community members gathered to celebrate the culture and history of Latinos at the National Portrait Gallery. The celebration was part of the Nuestra Ciudad history project, developed by the Carlos Rosario School and sponsored by the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs.
Visitors learned more about the history of the DC Latino community in the 1970s through a display that showed key moments and leaders. The display covered the many advancements made by the Latino community during that decade, including legislation to create the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, the founding of various education and community organizations, and artistic accomplishments. After viewing the panels, visitors were encouraged to think about how they are fighting to make positive change in their communities and who are the heroes that inspire them.
Other activities inspired by the historical research were a theater workshop by GALA Theatre, one of the organizations that emerged in the 1970s; protest sign and button-making for kids; bilingual folk music by Elena y Los Fulanos; a collaborative poem with visitors facilitated by local poet Sami Miranda, storyboarding by Fairfax County Schools, and a Mexican traditional dance performance by Corazón Folkórico. In addition, the National Portrait Gallery offered tours of its recent acquisitions in Spanish and English.
Among the participants was Santa López, a former student of the Program of English Instruction for Latin Americans, the ESL program that later became the Carlos Rosario School. Santa came with her children because she wants them to be connected with her culture. As Santa looked at the historical display, she talked about the importance of sharing these stories. “It’s great to let community know about what all these organizations did and how we got here. The most important part is that an event like this educates children. And in these times we can come here and unify, learn about each other,” she said.