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Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month

By Meital Caplan
September 15, 2017

Latinx Heritage Month is a time for all of us to celebrate a culture that is often wrongly portrayed as the antagonist to national policy conversations around immigration, employment, identity and language. For OneGoal staff, it is a time honor Latinx’s diversity and historical contributions while acknowledging the obstacles that continue to lay in the path of success for members of its community. Here OneGoal staff and Program Directors share their thoughts.

What does Latinx Heritage Month symbolize for you?

Latinx culture is so rich and beautiful. We are smart, family oriented, creative, and above all, we are “luchadores.” And we’re also incredibly diverse. Some of us have always called America home, while others are immigrants or children of immigrants. In my family, we have different skin tones and speak different languages: some speak Spanish and others prefer English. But although our community is incredibly diverse, there’s something almost intangible that unites us: a warmth, a recognition, a shared history.

This month, we celebrate and take pride in that history; in the genius with which Ruben Blades or Joan Baez use music to inspire social justice, in the magical prose of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Romulo Gallegos, in the bravery of Cesar Chavez or Sylvia Mendez who stood up for equity and paved the way for those of us who came after, and in the unsung heros: our parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors who taught us to love our country while never forgetting our roots. This year in particular, I feel incredibly proud to be Latina and celebrate the contributions that we and all people of color have made in our country and around the globe.

Monique Zurita, Managing Director of Marketing + Communications

What does your Latinx identity mean to you?

Most cannot tell it by looking at me, but I am Mexican-American. My legal name is Tuggle but the name of my blood is Robledo. Because I was not raised by my real father, I grew up with no real knowledge of my cultural heritage. I was always proud of being Mexican but didn’t talk about it because I have often been accused of not being a “real Mexican,” or at least not Mexican enough.

I am proud to say that after working with OneGoal, now when I am asked to select my ethnic identity on a survey, I click “Latino.” From now on, I will decide who and what I am. Nobody else has that right. I will continue to encourage my students to do the same.

Darren Tuggle, Program Director at Kelvyn Park High School

What progress has been made for Latinx students and what steps still need to be taken?

I think we’ve started to acknowledge as a country that there is a gap for students who identify as Latinx. I think now we need to move to space where the gap in opportunity is recognized as a crisis and adequate resources are provided towards closing that gap (and not for just Latinx students, but all students who lose out on opportunity because of race, zip code or socioeconomic status, to name a few). Given my experience and the privilege that my education has given me, I have a responsibility to advocate and work towards addressing inequity.

Stephanie Flores, Manager of Program

What progress has been made for Latinx students and what steps still need to be taken?

History books omit significant parts of my heritage. Most of the time, the books only tell one part of the story. Latinx History classes are now offered, but only as an elective. I would love Latinx history be mandatory for all students. Also, many are multilingual as kids but their native tongue is lost because of the dominant monolingual culture. I would love to see more dual language classes.

David Blancas, Director of Teacher Support

What does Latinx Heritage Month symbolize for you?

It symbolizes the extraordinary power, beauty and unique contributions of the Latinx community. While rarely acknowledged and affirmed, so much of the success and strength of America is owed to members of the Latinx community. Being married to a Colombian-Guamanian woman who has spent her career advocating for and working for the empowerment of the Latinx community, I have personally been enriched by the incredible richness of Latinx diaspora and also deeply humbled by how much work we still have to do in making Latinx Heritage not about a month but about the very fabric of this country.


Kwame Griffith, President

What is your role in the fight for equity?

My role in the fight for equity is to give another voice to the Latinx community and stand alongside and together with them in the fight for equity. Progress has been made, but not enough. We need to open more doors for Latinx students by way of policy and understanding among communities and the nation as a whole.

Katerina Roldan, Executive Assistant

What is your role in the fight for equity?

My role in the fight for equity is to be a courageous ally and ensure that I add my voice to important policy issues as well as to amplify the voice of the brilliant Latinx leaders that have shaped our country’s history and also those who are shaping this worktalented Fellows, Program Directors and staff. I have a particular affinity for the Latinx community due to my time living in Panama, Colombia and working across Latin America.  My Latinx friends and colleagues taught me resilience, believing in yourself as an entrepreneur and extended a familial warmth for which I will be forever grateful and changed.


Sarah Berghorst, Executive Director, OneGoal – Chicago