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National Hispanic Heritage Month | #ellaconstruyochicago

National Hispanic Heritage Month Girls on the Run-Chicago

Today is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which recognizes the history, culture and achievements of Hispanic Americans from September 15-October 15. The month celebrates many notable dates for Hispanic Americans, starting today, September 15, honoring the independence anniversary for Latin American countries El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. September 16 and September 18 mark the independence days of Mexico and Chile, respectively, and October 11 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

We are celebrating the month by highlighting the Hispanic/Latina artists, activists, entrepreneurs, and educators who embodied the GOTR value “Standing Up for Ourselves and Others” to build our city. #ellaconstruyóchicago—which translates to "she built Chicago"—will feature their stories alongside resources to help you celebrate their work with your kids.

At Girls on the Run-Chicago, our largest population of girls served identifies as Hispanic/Latine, and we encourage you to join us in celebrating the amazing impact and influence Hispanic culture plays in our everyday lives! Click here to watch a video for kids to share the month’s importance with your family.

 

María Enriquez de Allen

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We’re kicking off National Hispanic Heritage Month with artist, educator, and community activist María Enriquez de Allen. Born in Allende, Coahuila, Enríquez de Allen moved to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in 1963, where she created art inspired by Mexican popular arts and cultural traditions associated with the Day of the Dead. She experimented with nontraditional materials and processes in her work as part of a feminist art movement to revitalize and highlight crafts traditionally produced by women in domestic realms. 

In Pilsen, she became an arts instructor and an influential artist in the Chicano arts movement throughout the ‘70s. She joined the Halsted Urban Progress Center as an arts and crafts instructor, and taught classes at the former Casa Aztlan. She was also a member of the Association of the Latino Brotherhood of Artists (ALBA), an organization comprising poets, artisans, artists, and actors, active in the early 1970s.

She inspired her son Mario Castillo to become an artist, and in 1968, he painted the first-ever Chicano mural in the United States in Pilsen. You can still see the mural, which has been restored by local artists, on Halsted Street between Cullerton Avenue and 19th Street. 

María’s work was featured at the National Museum of Mexican Art’s exhibition Arte Diseno Xicago in 2018 to commemorate her impact in Chicago as a feminist Chicano artist. Check out some ways to experience her legacy in Pilsen and how to create your own art. 

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  • Visit the bronze portrait sculpture of her at DePaul University, in Chicago’s downtown campus.
  • Take photos of the mosaic portrait of her at Cooper Elementary, in Pilsen, Chicago.
  • Explore the National Museum of Mexican Art, and don’t miss their Pilsen Mural Walk guide
  • View her son Mario Castillo’s mural “Peace” on Halsted Street between Cullerton Avenue and 19th Street. 

 

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Teresa Fraga

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Teresa Fraga is a Mexican-born teacher, community organizer, and activist in Pilsen, Chicago, who has been using her voice to stand up for her Pilsen community’s values and rights since the ‘70s. 

Considered one of Pilsen’s Founding Mothers, she was involved in funding and establishing Benito Juarez Community Academy, a high school in Pilsen that educates students through an anti-racist lens. She has served on many councils and worked with myriad organizations to advocate for education in Pilsen and to better the community on a whole. 

Since the 1990s, Fraga has contended with gentrification in Pilsen, working to keep housing prices, property taxes, and utility costs manageable for lower income residents of Pilsen.

In the early 2000s, she pushed for a $26 million, five-year sidewalk repair program, and worked for newer and better parks in Pilsen. She is also working to develop a paseo—a multi-purpose path—between Pilsen and Little Village, Chicago.

To learn more about her and to get involved with NHHM events in your community, check out the resources below.

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Lucy Ella Gonzalez Parsons

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Today we’re featuring Lucy Ella Gonzalez Parsons, a self-educated women’s rights activist and labor organizer who used her powerful public speaking skills to inspire and unite workers in Chicago and abroad #ellaconstruyóchicago.

She identified as Mexican American, African American, and Native American, and moved to Chicago in the 1870s, living on Chicago’s North Troy Street until her death in 1942. 

In 1878, Parsons helped organize the Working Women’s Union No. 1, the only trade union in Chicago with female members.

In 1886, she, her husband—newspaper editor and labor organizer Albert Parsons—and their two children led 80,000 people down Michigan Avenue in the world’s first May Day labor parade, demonstrating the growing labor movement after the Haymarket Affair. The attention it drew led to the establishment of the 8-hour work day and Labor Day as a national holiday.

She then went on to help found the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905.

Today, an all-affordable transit-oriented housing development for low-income residents stands in her name as the Lucy Gonzalez Parson Apartments, located next to the eponymous Blue Line station. Learn more about her legacy and how you and your family can use your voice to stand up for your values!

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Maria Mangual

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We’re honoring Maria Mangual, the leader and community organizer who founded Mujeres Latinas en Acción (MLEA), a culturally sensitive, bi-lingual domestic violence and women’s empowerment program based in Pilsen #ellaconstruyóchicago. She formed MLEA in 1973, making it the longest-standing Latina-led organization in the United States. 

Her vision was to provide community services that empower Latinas and their families, supporting them as they heal and thrive with after-school programs, domestic violence counseling, and parent support programs among other services. The organization also promotes advocacy through leadership development programs that teach women how to use their voices and stand up for themselves politically, socially, and personally.

For her leadership, she received awards including the 2006 Chicago Latinos in Philanthropy Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005 NBC Jefferson Award for Public Service, and the National Museum of Mexican Art's Sor Juana Award. 

Today, her vision lives on and provides support and resources to the Pilsen community. Learn more about her work and ways to stand up and make change in your community. 

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