February is a month of many faces.
President’s Day celebrates the images of our former leaders and Valentine’s Day brings to mind the visages of our loved ones. This month pays homage to women and their health, the history of black Americans and the history of Chicanos. Even though Chicano History Month is sometimes overshadowed by other events, the presence of Mexican-Americans and Hispanics in the United States is growing and cannot easily be ignored.
On-campus events in honor of Chicano History Month have been organized throughout the month to recognize these faces and to bring attention to their history and future. Collectively, these events are meant to bring individuals together to build a more united community.
Though February is nearing its end, there are still opportunities to lend your support. The Dia de la Mujer Conference on Saturday, Feb. 26, and the Xicano Unity Dinner scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 27, are two events organized to raise awareness and plan for the future of the Chicano community.
The Dia de la Mujer Conference, to be held at the Kellogg Center, focuses on the role of Chicana and Latina women in the community. The goal of the all-day conference is to develop relationships among Chicana and Latina women in the Midwest. New to this year’s conference is action plan development for specific issues concerning Chicanos in the community. “We’ve gotten very positive reactions from women who have attended the conference in the past, but they want something more,” Maria Zavala, assistant coordinator of the event, said. “Hopefully, this will be the start.”
The conference features two keynote speakers, 30 workshops and regional caucus meetings designed to develop specific plans of action for each region. Dian Marinez, dean of the College of Science and Technology at Texas A&M University and a former MSU professor, will speak on Chicano leadership in the community and the process of developing action plans. Leticia Zavala from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee will discuss how to organize for farm worker and immigrant rights. The workshops will focus on issues ranging from human trafficking and spirituality to domestic violence and preparing for job interviews.
The conference is the largest of its kind in the Midwest. This year, 800 to 1,000 women are expected to attend. Other gatherings of Chicanos are aimed at specific issues such as health, but the Dia de la Mujer Conference is an all-encompassing event addressing the overall position of Chicanos in the community, in addition to pinpointing specific hot topics. “Wisconsin just called here the other day. They are trying to organize an event like ours. Eventually, what we are headed for is a national organization,” Maria Zavala said.
“It is very rewarding to go to this conference. To meet all these women and to work toward a common goal makes for a euphoric day,” Maria Zavala said.
Everyone is welcome to attend. The cost is $10, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch, and the conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to register, contact the Office of Racial and Ethnic Student Affairs, 338 Student Services Building, or visit the Dia de la Mujer Web site.
If an all-day conference is not your cup of tea, check out the Xicano Unity Dinner in the Wilson C.R.U. Room. “The event is planned in the spirit of Chicano History month,” Oscar Vega, the event’s organizer and social relations sophomore, said. “It is a time for the community to come together and focus on the history and the future of Chicanos in America, and in this community specifically.”
The dinner will give members of the MSU community a chance to mingle on an informal level. Vega hopes people will “come together on a personal level and work from there.” Building relationships among people from different groups, whether the division line be age or ethnicity, will strengthen the community, giving individuals the resources needed to solve problems plaguing the Chicano community.
Traditional Mexican food will be served at the dinner. In addition to the meal and socializing, the event will feature student and staff speakers. Everyone is welcome to attend. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Oscar Vega at vegaosca@msu.edu.
With this month’s mission being community building, Chicanos may never again be overlooked faces in the crowd, and now that you know what is happening, make your face seen. You too could help build a better community.

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