When Dr. Juan Andrade Jr. became the first teacher in the Nation to be arrested for speaking Spanish, he had to know at that point that Latinos attempting to get an education would be a never ending battle. Reflecting upon that time, he spoke the words “60 years ago we were arrested for something we are getting bonuses for today”. Mr. Andrade was the keynote speaker at the 16th Annual Hispanic Heritage Recognition Event and the 19th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Dinner Thursday, September 17th at the Radisson Hotel in Downtown Lansing, Michigan. The Michigan Hispanic/Latino Commission, along with co-hosts Michigan Hispanic Legislative Caucus and the Capital Area Cesar E. Chavez Commission honored some of Michigan’s best Hispanic Leaders and promising High School Students with awards. In an odd and unplanned twist, many of us were amazed by the fact that most of award winners (the exceptions being the High Schoolers) were from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. It was a great evening of celebrating the Legacy of Cesar E. Chavez and Hispanic Heritage Month as many leaders from across the State of Michigan were seen networking, socializing, and enjoying what in my humble opinion was one of the best meals at a conference that I have ever seen. But if you have never witnessed a Dr. Andrade keynote (I have been Blessed to have seen two), you truly missed a night to remember. His stories include history, plenty of humor, his love of the Hispanic Culture mixed with humor and finished by a challenge to all, young and old alike.
Although it took many people to put together this event, and there were several people behind the scenes including interns and of course the H/L Commissioners, the elegant and upbeat night was led by only two. Marylou Olivarez Mason who serves as the Executive Director of H/L Commission and Victoria Garcia as the office Administrative Assistant. With the Radisson Hotel as the venue, I find it hard to believe anyone went home disappointed. From Holland to Flint, from Detroit to Muskegon, and Kalamazoo to Toledo, Ohio, Marylou and Victoria provided an atmosphere that allowed plenty of time for discussion and as well as building new networks. Honestly, how many Statewide events do we have that can say that in the Latino community?
The Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan was created in 1975 to represent the interests of Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population – one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the state. The Commission, made up of 15 individuals appointed by the Governor, advises the Governor and state legislature on policy matters and serves Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population by fostering and celebrating their achievements and promoting their development and welfare. Locally in the Greater Lansing Area, we are represented by Noel Garcia Jr. and Jeremiah Hernandez. H/L Commission on the web: http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/0,1607,7-138-58275_3064—,00.html H/L Commission on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hlcommission H/L Commissioners and Staff: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdcr/CommissionersandOfficeStaff2014-6_459530_7.pdf?20140930015247