Exploring Latino American History through Community-Based Educational Events & Celebrations

Herencia Latina Brings Exploration of Latino History and Culture to the Pioneer Valley

Held over the course of nine months, Herencia Latina brings a host of educational opportunities and cultural celebrations to the Pioneer Valley.

For over a century, Latino Americans have been a part of communities within the Pioneer Valley. With over 50 million people making up Latino communities across the country, the group is the largest minority group in the country.

In order to celebrate and educate about Latino American history and culture, the Pioneer Valley History Network – in conjunction with local museums, libraries, colleges, and community organizations – brings Herencia Latina to western Massachusetts.

Offering seemingly endless opportunities to explore the history of Latino Americans in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, Herencia Latina brings educational opportunities to western Massachusetts through May of 2016.

The central element of Herencia Latina is the screening of the six-part documentary series Latino Americans, which chronicles 500 years of Latino American history. All six portions of the documentary will be screened during the event, each paired with a scholar-led discussion to extend and expand audience members’ understanding of the documentary. Other highlights of Herencia Latina include an exhibit of photographs of residents of Springfield’s North End at the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History (September 22, 2015-March 20, 2016), a bi-lingual exhibit at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke titled Nuestras Abuelitas/Our Grandmothers and curated by members of the Latino community in the Pioneer Valley (March & April 2016), and screenings and community conversations centered around a variety of topics relating to Latino American history and culture and its ties to the local community.

As a part of its participation in this community project, Turners Falls RiverCulture celebrates Latino History Day with traditional Central and South American music, food, and crafts, as well as a documentary film and discussion on Thursday, September 17, 2015. Families can head to Spinner Park (Avenue A and 4th Street) for lively musical performances, make their way to 109 Avenue A to decorate paper mache masks representative of those used in a variety of traditional ceremonies, stop by 113 Avenue A for a delicious meal of rice and beans, and get to the Shea Theater by 7pm for a screening and discussion of Peril & Promise, part of a PBS-created documentary series The Latino American.

The full Herencia Latina project includes a total of fourteen film-and-discussion events, six cultural programs and festivals, four special exhibits, and several related events in communities throughout the Pioneer Valley. To further explore the project, see Herencia Latina’s full schedule of events taking place over the next nine months.


[Photo credits: Award-winning guitarist Lorena Garay and Eugenio Huanca will perform an energetic blend of traditional and original Latin American music during the Turners Falls RiverCulture event, Latino History Day, Thursday, September 17. This colorful performance will include irresistible rhythms from the Andes, Puerto Rico, the Spanish Caribbean, South America, and Mexico! Spinner Park, Avenue A and 4th Street in Turners Falls, 6pm.; Kids can explore Mexican culture by decorating paper mache masks. Used in various traditional dances and ceremonies, masks have been was a well-established part of ritual life in Mexico for thousands of years. Make a jaguar or a coyote at 109 Avenue A from 4 to 8pm. Traditional beans and rice provided by Great Falls Harvest Restaurant will be served as well!]




One Comment on “Exploring Latino American History through Community-Based Educational Events & Celebrations

  1. Berkshire Community College (BCC) has been named a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, a public exploration of the rich and varied experiences of Latinos. BCC is the only community college in New England to receive the competitive grant.

    The grant is part of a nationwide initiative by the NEH and the American Library Association to educate communities throughout the country about the diversity, history and achievements of Latino Americans in the United States. Grantees include libraries, museums, cultural art centers, state humanities councils, historical societies and community organizations.

    BCC will use the funds to hold public screenings, including episodes of PBS’s Latino Americans documentary series, as well as panel discussions, a book club reading group, and other events designed to explore Latino culture.

    “We are proud to be a part of this important initiative. There is much that is not widely known about the history and influence of Latinos in the United States and Berkshire County. This is an opportunity for our community to learn, have thoughtful dialogue and celebrate Latino culture,” said BCC President Ellen Kennedy.

    Upcoming BCC Events:

    BCC’s first event will be held on Sept. 23 with an hour-long screening of PBS’s The New Latinos starting at 12:15 p.m. A Book Club Reading Group will gather on Sept. 25 from 2 to 3 p.m. to discuss How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. A free book and refreshments will be provided. Space is limited and registration is required. To RSVP, contact BCC’s Coordinator of Library Services Karen Carreras-Hubbard at khubbard@berkshirecc.edu.

    BCC’s slate of programming will continue through the fall and winter months and will culminate with several events, including a bus trip to New York City, in April 2016. The entire event schedule is available at https://www.berkshirecc.edu/news-events/latino-americans.php

    The majority of the events are free and open to the public. Several of the screenings count toward FORUM credit for BCC students.

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