ULS gains a Latin influence

While America’s picture of a Latino was once Ricky Ricardo, TV shows that portray Latino characters more realistically are now winning Emmys. Meanwhile, Latino comedians like George Lopez host primetime sitcoms.

Agustin “Gus” Garcia, a human and civil rights activist, will highlight the influence Latinos have had on American culture through time in a lecture tonight.

Garcia is known for his heavy political and social involvement. He’s a founding member of the first Latin-American fraternity in the United States, Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. He currently serves as the Legal & Governmental Affairs Director for the Democratic Movement.

“The Latinization of America” is co-sponsored by Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., and is part of the University Lecture Series. It is also part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The title of the lecture has personal meaning for Norma Cano-Alvarez, coordinator for Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE). She said as a young girl she would stay up late watching I Love Lucy. The only Latino she ever saw on television was Ricky Ricardo. A lot has changed since the 1960s, she said.

“I have been fortunate enough to see how the Latino culture has penetrated into the American culture,” she said.

She has observed the gradual change in various ways.

“I find that people have become warmer to us as Latinos. We hug and kiss each other on the cheek,” she said. “I also see how this new generation of Latinos, especially these past five years, are becoming more politically and socially active.”

Garcia will also discuss the importance of student political involvement, especially among Latinos and other minorities, said Victor Velasco, a member of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. and event coordinator for Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We (Latinos) are a high percentage of voters here in the United States, and if we get together, we can make a huge difference in the voter turnout,” Velasco said.

Velasco hopes students will leave with a better understanding of “the contributions we as Latinos have made in this country that we now live in and call our own.”

Garcia is scheduled to speak tonight at 7 in the Marshall Center Ballroom.