Students gathered in the Lory Student Center Wednesday to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday that pays tribute to ancestors who have passed away.
Although most students in attendance represented the Latino community, other faculty and CSU students helped pack the room and listened to a brief history of the holiday followed by a presentation that paid tribute to three Mexican men of honor.
Jesse Ramirez, a graduate education student, presented a slide show about Cesar Chavez, Rudolfo Gonzales and Lalo Delgado, prominent figures in Mexican history.
Rich Salas, assistant director for El Centro Student Services, said the presentation served as a "poetic alter" that allowed students to celebrate the lives and legacies of the men.
"The point is to give honor to three key leaders who were very much an impact in the Mexican society," he said.
Salas also said El Dia del los Muertos evolved as a Mexican holiday because of the combined influence from the pre-Colombian indigenous people and the Catholicism introduced to Mexico from the Spaniards. The holiday, celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, is revered as a celebration of lives rather than one of mourning the dead.
Ramirez's "poetic alter" included traditional Mexican music and poetry. Ramirez combined poetry from the three figures he paid tribute to and readings of his own work. His presentation stressed the importance of each person being proud of his or her heritage.
"For me, these men have had such an impact in my life. It's strange to realize that you will never realize some powerful moments until years later when you reflect on them," he said, in reference to how El Dia de los Muertos allows for reflection of another's life.
Ramirez's last slide of his presentation boldly declared "The movement has just begun!"
The history of the holiday was only briefly highlighted because Salas and Ramirez wanted students to view it as an educational and reflective presentation rather than as a presentation focusing on religion.
"We wanted to increase the awareness level among all students at CSU," Salas said. "It's not just for people from a particular ethnicity. We would be shortchanging other students if we didn't allow them the opportunity to learn about some of these things."
Nicole Meredith, sophomore social work major, said this presentation was very powerful for her because she feels not enough people know about traditions from other cultures.
"(The presentation) was empowering because students on this campus lose track of what's important," she said. "Growing up in Colorado, I don't think it's ever been as important as it should be."
Meredith said she appreciated the presentation because it allowed her to reflect on the importance of other people's lives.
"(It) renews a sense of pride, it renews a sense of awareness, and for me, it gives me a goal, a goal to understand and keep a sense of pride about my heritage," she said.