Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated


Kathy Clayton

The Ashland Beacon


   In an effort to encourage unity, diversity and inclusion, the Ashland For Change organization is planning a variety of events to mark Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15.

   “We decided to highlight Hispanic Heritage Month as a good opportunity to make information available to help overcome stereotypes and bring people together,” said Audra Thomas, vice president of Ashland for Change.

   While current restrictions on social distancing and public gatherings are keeping the celebration mainly virtual, the group is making the best of technology to bring their message to the citizens of Ashland and surrounding areas.

   “We will be posting original content. For example, we’re making a salsa-making video, led by a Hispanic woman, that will include things like the history of salsa, the recipe and a bit of a Spanish lesson,” she said. The video will be posted on the group’s Facebook page as well as YouTube, under Ashland for Change.

   The group also started a book club. “We’ll be meeting this weekend (Sept 12-13) to find a book for this month, our second book,” Thomas said. “We’re looking for a Hispanic author, but we want the focus to be on the immigration process, and success stories.” Last month’s selection was “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America,” by Richard Rothstein.

   According to the book club’s group site on Facebook, it’s purpose is to tackle issues such as racism, classism, ableism, and intersectionality.

   Another event the group is planning is book reading for children. “We hope to have a social distanced, bilingual activity, maybe at the riverfront but we don’t have permissions or confirmation yet. We want to have someone reading books to children, with an activity.”

   Other videos are also in the works. “We plan to produce another video, with maybe two Hispanic women making dishes from different regions – giving background on the food, customs and heritages of the region.” Thomas noted that “we want to incorporate other countries besides Mexico, someone from our community here.” Another video idea is pinata-making. “We are looking for ways to make them interactive as well,” she said.

   “The purpose of Ashland for Change is to provide a platform for people of color, lower income people, women, and other marginalized people to have a voice, and promote racial equality and multiculturalism,” Thomas said. “Discrimination is not always overt, there is covert discrimination that is not always obvious and we want to examine that.” The group held its first meeting at the end of May, in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others, and resulting public outcry for reform.

   “We thought Hispanic Heritage Month is a good way to give the local community information and overcome stereotypes.”

   The group will be announcing other upcoming activities for Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as an observance to celebrate Booker T. Washington, and the school that was named for him. The city had traditionally celebrated this over Labor Day weekend.

   “By next summer, we will have other events going on, probably a Juneteenth Day event, maybe a bigger Booker T. Washington celebration,” Thomas said.

   Ashland For Change has 14 founding members. The group holds regular Zoom meetings. For more information, visit the Facebook page by searching Ashland for Change.