Remembering Latinos Unidos

Multiple generations of Latina/o/x students have worked to create spaces of belonging for Latine students.

Latine students at Southwestern University have worked to create numerous student organizations focused on creating safe spaces for Latine students within our predominantly white institution (PWI), by creating community and advocating for social justice and change on campus. The safe spaces these organizations have been able to create have been metaphorical, as none of them have ever had a physical space on campus to call their own. That is why we have placed this pin in the center of the Academic Mall.

The first organization on campus for Hispanic/Latine students was called La Gente, created by a group of students who were from the Rio Grande Valley. Their goal initially in starting the club was to gather a group of people of similar backgrounds to hang out with and turn to for support.

The group name was later changed from La Gente to MASA: Mexican-American Student Association. This group was more organized, and worked in collaboration with other campus organizations to coordinate events that brought awareness and support for marginalized Latine groups on campus and advocated for social justice.

By the 1980s, MASA had been replaced by an organization called Latin Friendship, which was designed to be more inclusive of all Latine identities, rather than just those of Mexican descent.

As the Latine population on campus continued to grow, so did the impact Latine organizations had on campus. In 1996, Latinos Unidos was founded. They were active until 2016, when they established their current name H.A.L.O., an acronym standing for Hispanic And Latine Organization.

The purpose of HALO is “to provide an understanding of Hispanic culture and to serve as a means for intercultural exchange.” They aim to create a community amongst students of similar ethnicities where they can feel safe, working to foster a sense of belonging in a predominantly white institution (PWI). The group also has worked towards providing a better understanding of Latine culture, and hoped to spread their understanding to the Southwestern community by organizing events throughout the year.

Latinos Unidos would customarily celebrate different Hispanic holidays, including Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout the month of September, they would hold numerous events. In the first two decades of the 2000s, poetry readings would be held at Korouva Milk Bar for an “artistic” approach to the celebration. They also held discussion series exploring topics surrounding Latinidad and Latino politics, which were open to all students. They also organized fun performances and plays about Latine stereotypes and issues. As well as providing salsa dancing lessons to the campus.

Students in Latinos Unidos would bring special emphasis to celebrating the 16th, as the Diez y Seis de Septiembre is Mexican Independence Day, and incredibly important to Mexican culture. Musical selections such as Mariachi El Romance (local Austin Mariachi band) and the Georgetown Balet Folklorico, complete with traditional Mexican dances, music, and costumes. The bulk of their holiday celebration was during September, but they also celebrated other Hispanic holidays such as Dia de los Muertos in November and Cinco de Mayo in May.

In addition, students in Latinos Unidos worked with the community, both for the campus and for the Georgetown community overall. They sometimes had smaller events to support students including support groups, and passing out t-shirts and other things with slogans to bring awareness around campus. Latinos Unidos worked with Georgetown Public Library in a Fall festival, which members hoped would help bring an understanding to such a passionate culture, as well as having a featured Georgetown ISD winner to read her essay about the Diez y Seis and what it means to her.

The group has also sent students to conferences at other universities, which students said inspired and challenged them. One year some members even attended a conference in Monterrey, Mexico. They attended these conferences to learn more and hopefully be able to spread what they had learned to the Southwestern community. They have even organized conferences on SU campus surrounding the topic of Latinidad, in an attempt to unify, educate, and support the campus community.

The first was the Latino Heritage Symposium at Southwestern, held in March 2005. This symposium aimed to address the complexities and contradictions of Latine identity. They had speakers from different universities around Texas, as well as many professors from our campus from a variety of departments.

The work started by Latinos Unidos lives in the work of HALO as well as the Latin American & Border Studies (LABS) Program. LABS and HALO continue to collaborate on the annual Borderlands Symposium. These symposia include many speakers, screenings, and discussions throughout the week, along with a student art space called "Stitchin' and Bitchin'," where students are provided materials and encouraged to create their own art that represent borderlands concepts and ideas.

The annual Borderlands Symposium therefore not only honors the heritage and culture of Latines everywhere, but also honors the legacy of Latine student, faculty, and staff activists on campus.

Images

Latinos Unidos logo Source: creator Creator: Latinos Unidos Date: circa 2005
Borderlands Symposium 2021 flyer Source: Laura Senio Blair Creator: LABS program Date: 2021
Borderlands Symposium 2022 flyer Source: Laura Senio Blair Creator: LABS Program Date: 2022
Borderlands Symposium 2023 flyer Source: Laura Senio Blair Creator: LABS Program Date: 2023
Latinos Unidos founders being commemorated in 1998 Source: Emily Calderon Galdeano Creator: unknown Date: September 1998
Latinos Unidos members 1998 Source: Emily Calderon Galdeano Creator: unknown Date: September 1998
Amigas event, 1998 Source: Emily Calderon Galdeano Creator: unknown Date: 1998

Location

Metadata

Adrianna Flores-Vivas '24, “Remembering Latinos Unidos,” Placing Memory, accessed July 25, 2024, https://placingmemory.southwestern.edu/items/show/50.