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University News

A Fun Fiesta

Month-long celebration of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage ends with a block party featuring music, dancing and more

Posted in: Hispanic Initiatives, Homepage News, University

the Cali School’s Afro-Caribbean Ensemble on campus with microphone and drum
Musicians with the Cali School of Music’s Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, under the direction of Oscar Perez, perform at the Block Party.

Students, faculty and staff descended on the Student Center Quad to learn, dance and mingle as the Office for Hispanic Initiatives wrapped Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month events and festivities with a Block Party. The afternoon event featured a DJ, live music, food and alegria (joy).

Wednesday’s event was “very embracing of our culture” says Natasha Soto, a Bronx native and freshman International Business major. She took a break from dancing to Bad Bunny’s “Tití Me Preguntó,” captured on her phone by friend and fellow freshman Amya Rodriguez, to add: “It’s a taste of home. It’s also an opportunity to meet people of the same background.”

Director of Student Belonging Duane Williams talked with people tabling and said he loves to learn and experience other cultures. “Visibility is key,” says Williams, who is of Jamaican descent. “Just as I want to be visible in any space that I am in, I want to see and recognize what makes others unique.”

Meanwhile, the party continued with domino games and dancing to a live Afro-Caribbean Ensemble from the Cali School of Music.

The Block Party culminated a month-long campus celebration that started with a flag-raising ceremony and parade of flags and included research discussions on The Long-Term Impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx Immigrant Community and The Benefits and Perils of Black Racial Identity Development among Black Latinxs, a documentary film screening and more. Hispanic Heritage Month, which coincides with Independence Day celebrations across many Latin American countries, started in 1968 as a weeklong commemoration under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded to a month 20 years later by President Ronald Reagan.

students dancing on campus
Students dance to merengue, salsa and more at the Hispanic Heritage Month event.
students dancing in sync
Two Montclair students join in the dance celebration.
Students playing dominos
Students played dominoes and mingled.
Students dancing on campus
Dancing is always fun.
Isabel Adorno dancing
Isabel Adorno, with the Cali School’s Afro-Caribbean Ensemble, performs at the Block Party.
Attendees at the block party learn a dance
People take Cali School Afro-Caribbean Ensemble member Adrianna Viera’s (front) lead through some dance steps.
The Cali School Afro-Caribbean Ensemble trumpets and trombones
Wind players with the Cali School Afro-Caribbean Ensemble perform, under the direction of Oscar Perez. Musicians include Nico Martin on alto saxophone, Rodrigo Romero on tenor sax, Denton Moreland and Adrienne Bazile on trumpet, and Paul Ferrera on trombone.
Students seated at a table labeled Civic and Voter Engagement
Students tabling while enjoying the festivities.
Montclair employee clapping along to music
Montclair employees also enjoyed the music.
Flags flying over campus
Latin American flags representing the diversity of Montclair’s Latinx students wave proudly in the crisp autumn air.

Photography by John LaRosa.