Hispanic Heritage Month speaker recalls stories of past leaders

Written by Thomas Garrett, student writer 

Martha Villegas Miranda, a community and higher education activist, kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month at Grand Valley on September 15 by discussing past civil rights leaders and their legacies.

Miranda described herself as "an educator, a storyteller and an immigrant ally,” saying she came from a family of two immigrant parents. Miranda said Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as a 10-day celebration under President Lyndon Johnson, and expanded to a month in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan.

Martha Villegas Miranda wears a hat at the podium
Martha Villegas Miranda addresses an audience in the Kirkhof Center during a Hispanic Heritage Month presentation September 15.
Image credit - Lauren Seymour

It was that kind of historical storytelling that Miranda emphasized during her presentation, whether telling stories of César Chávez, labor leader, or Sylvia Mendez, civil rights activist. Miranda's passion for history, she said, came from those individuals, and others, who paved the way for people like her. 

“By highlighting the stories of Hispanic civil rights leaders, we can educate ourselves about the history that paved the way for us,” said Miranda, director of TRIO Talent Search at Broward College. She encouraged students to begin networking and getting involved on campus or in their local governments if they want to see change their communities. 

The next Hispanic Heritage Month event is a First Voice Generation Movie Screening on Thursday, September 21, in the Kirkhof Center, rooms 2215/2216, from 5-7 p.m. More information about this event and other Hispanic Heritage Month events can be found on the Office of Multicultural Affairs Website.

images of photos and a cross on an alter
Martha Villegas Miranda created an alter, including photos of her parents, prior to her presentation.
Image credit - Lauren Seymour


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