posted September 2, 2002

Hispanic Heritage Month Events Begin Sept. 18

Hope College has scheduled a series of activities in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, including the college's fifth annual Cesar E. Chavez Address on Wednesday, Sept. 18, which will open the celebration.

The public is invited to all of the events. Admission is free to most, including the opening keynote.

State Senator Valde Garcia will present the Cesar E. Chavez Address, "Empowering America's Future: Empowering Hispanic Leadership" on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre. Admission is free.

The college's Hispanic Student Organization is sponsoring a "Hispanic Food Festival" on Wednesday, Sept. 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Phelps and Cook dining halls. Highlights in addition to the meal will include games, prizes and music. Admission is free for Hope students and members of the college's faculty and staff, and $5 for community members (payable at the door).

The college's Dialogue on Race and Latino Film Series will present "My American Girls: A Dominican Story" on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room. The film tells of the members of the immigrant Ortiz family in their adopted city of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the struggle Sandra Ortiz, the mother, faces in raising her three teenage daughters in America. Cultural assimilation is a key issue addressed in the film. Admission is free.

The second annual Tulipanes Latino Art & Film Festival will present "Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business" on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium. The documentary film will be followed by a panel discussion on the role of women of color in entertainment, and by a reception. Admission is free.

The theatre company New Latino Visions will present "Cesar Died Today" on Thursday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. in the Knickerbocker Theatre. The play concerns a Mexican-American family whose secrets are revealed the day Cesar Chavez dies. Admission is free.

Valde Garcia represents 26th Senate District, which includes the mid-Michigan counties of Livingston, Shiawassee and Clinton. He was elected to the state Senate in 2001.

He had previously served in the Michigan House since 1998, representing the 86th District. He was one of the first two Hispanics elected to the Michigan Legislature.

In 2000 Garcia was named one of the top 100 people to watch by the "Lansing State Journal." He was also named a Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Business (NFIB) for his record on small-business issues.

Garcia is a 1981 graduate of Cedarville College in Ohio, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and history.

He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army following his graduation, and was honorably discharged as a captain in 1990. He joined the Army Reserves, and was recalled to active duty in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm, serving at Fort Benning, Ga. He currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Michigan Army National Guard.

Garcia began his political career as a legislative aide to state Senator Harmon Cropsey. He also served as chief of staff for the late Senator Doug Carl and Senator Mike Rogers. He taught economics, government and history at Laingsburg Christian School before becoming a territory manager for the NFIB.

A lifelong Clinton County resident, he lives in St. Johns with his wife, Karla, and their two children. He is a member of the American Legion, Rotary Club and St. Johns Chamber of Commerce.

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs Sunday, Sept. 15, through Tuesday, Oct. 15. Cesar E. Chavez, who died in 1993 at age 66, played a leading role in the 1960s in organizing the nation's migrant farm workers, and was the first head of the National Farm Workers Association, later the United Farm Workers.

Cook Hall is located on 10th Street between College and Columbia avenues. The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. 8th St., between College and Columbia avenues. The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street. Phelps Hall is located on Columbia Avenue at 10th Street.