May 042006
Authors: Marissa HuttonGavel The Rocky Mountain Collegian

With the issue of immigration filling the pages of the America’s newspapers and the screens of America’s TV sets, students have a chance today to celebrate one culture’s heritage in the midst of making its history.

Cinco de Mayo is commonly viewed as a last chance to party before finals. But it is a holiday to remember the past and a chance to look forward to what can be accomplished in the future.

As Rich Salas, assistant director for El Centro Student Services said, a Mexican army of 4,000 people decided “enough was enough” and defeated a much larger French army. Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of this victory 144 years ago in Puebla, Mexico.

“This battle demonstrates today that no matter how insurmountable the odds may seem, with perseverance and determination you can accomplish anything and be victorious,” Salas wrote in an e-mail. “The example of standing up for our rights and human dignity is just as important today than it was then.”

The moral of the Cinco de Mayo story is that even the underdog can prevail with enough courage and support and that although society has made some progress, ignorance and fear of different cultures are still obstacles.

“The lesson we can take from this historical battle applies to many injustices that continue to occur today and how we can prevail by unifying and organizing,” Salas wrote.

As executive director for the community-wide Cinco de Mayo celebration planning team for more than 25 years, Salas believes in the following quote from Cesar Chavez when it comes to celebrating cultural history.

“The celebration and preservation of one’s culture does not require disrespect or contempt of other cultures,” he quoted. “We have the right to celebrate who we are. It does not imply we are ‘un-American’ as some crazy critics are saying.”

CSU will celebrate today with numerous events on the Lory Student Center Plaza.

The Latino Greek Council (LGC) is hosting events all day, which are set to begin at 10 a.m. on the Plaza. Graduate student Jesse Ramirez will read poetry and speak about the holiday’s history.

The dance group “Folklorico Raices de Mexico Ramirez” will perform traditional Aztec dances. At 11a.m. a performance by the Lambda Theta Nu Step Team will open for keynote speaker David Winter.

“The theme of the day is unity and a lot of times white kids don’t understand how they can fit in to the celebration,” said Elizabeth Salamanca, senior human development and family studies major.

Winter will speak about unity among all people.

The second half of the day will focus on traditional Latin dancing and a performance by the Pi Lambda Chi Stem Team. Musical group Grupo Aztlan will round out the day with a performance at 1:30 p.m.

Other events around town will include “An Evening with Dolores Huerta” at 7 p.m. at the Northside Aztlan Community Center, 112 E. Willow St. Huerta, who will also speak on campus today, is an advocate for immigrant workers’ rights and worked closely with Cesar Chavez.

Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at


Cinco de Mayo Events Around Town:


– Cinco-Cinco 5K run/walk

8 a.m.

CSU Oval

– Cinco de Mayo fiesta

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dance at the White Buffalo, 5400 N. Garfield


– “Dia de la Familia”

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Northside Community Center

All ages

For more info. on cinco de mayo events visit

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