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Featured: Connecting Communities through History

Salvador & Lupe Villasenor, Santa Ana, 1929
Salvador & Lupe Villaseñor, Santa Ana, 1929

Contributed by Jennie Quiñónez-Skinner

The Oviatt Library has been selected to receive a competitive Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). The grant supports public programs during the upcoming academic year from September 2015 through April 2016. Events will be held throughout the San Fernando Valley in celebration of “the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos, who have helped shape the United States over the last five centuries.” Programs will include film screenings, discussions, presentations and workshops, and the Library is collaborating with a variety of campus and community partners to organize a diverse and engaging event schedule. Partners involved in this project represent a number of institutions from public libraries to museums, cultural and resource centers, all of which provide ideal settings to bring programs about Latinos to new audiences. Some participants include CSUN’s Veterans Resource Center, Central American Studies Department, and Chicana/o Studies Department, San Fernando Public Library, Glendale Public Library, Van Nuys Public Library, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, Rancho Camulos, and the Museum of the San Fernando Valley.

Film screenings will include all six installments of the award-winning 2013 PBS documentary series “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History.” Accompanying each screening will be discussions led by scholars and experts who will invite participants to consider Latino heritage and local histories, as well as the diversity of the Latino experience. The programs began on September 16 with  a screening of “Prejudice and Pride” followed by a discussion moderated by Jorge Leal, CSUN Lecturer at the History Department, focusing on the themes of Chicano identity and empowerment of Latinos in the political process.  The Oviatt will proudly partner with CSUN’s Veterans Resource Center to host one of these screenings at the Library on November 10, 2015 in celebration of the Center’s Veterans Awareness Week. Episode three in the documentary series, “War and Peace,” focuses on the experiences of Latinos during World War II, and the screening will be followed by a panel of CSUN student veterans discussing their own personal experiences. The panel presentation will be moderated by Juana Mora, Ph.D., a professor of Chicana/o Studies here at CSUN.

In addition to the documentary screenings and discussions, there will be a variety of workshops and exhibits. On October 8, 2015, Oviatt Library Creative Media Studio Coordinator Isis Leininger will present a hands-on “Creative Media on a Budget Workshop.” This interactive event at the Van Nuys Library will encourage attendees to use free film and audio creation digital tools. Also, in the weeks leading up to “Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead,” the Library is collaborating with the San Fernando Public Library to offer two workshops: “How to Make Papel Picado” and “How to Make Calaveras de Azúcar.” At the end of October, CSUN Chicana/o Studies Department Professor Dr. Xochitl Marcial-Flores will give a presentation entitled, “Words about Día de Los Muertos: Indigenous Perspectives.” Following that presentation at the Oviatt, the student organization MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán) will hold its annual Día de los Muertos event to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have died, and there will be an exhibition of altars and art created by CSUN students.

For a complete listing of the programs, please visit the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History – Calendar of Events page on the Library website. To learn more about the 2013, PBS documentary series, “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History,” please visit the Latino Americans Website.  All screenings, events, and workshops in the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History series are presented free of charge and are open to the public. Information about all Library events can be found on the Exhibitions and Events page on the Library website, or by calling (818) 677-2638. The Oviatt Library is located at the center of the California State University, Northridge campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. Parking is $6.00 and daily parking permits may be purchased at booths or online at The Permit Store.