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2013 Hispanic Heritage Celebration

Hispanic Heritage

exhibit  |   public programs  |   flyer  |   pagina en español

On view September 12 - December 31, 2013
Main Library, Second Floor Gallery
Curated by Ingrid Betancourt

Map of Central America

Over the last twenty years, New Jersey has become home to a growing number of families from Central America who bring with them dreams of opportunity as well as the willingness and resources to achieve success. Statistically a younger population, they rejuvenate the state and offer unique cultural, societal and economic contributions – a new Mesoamerican–heritage generation of New Jerseyans.

Mayan Art
Mayan art

Today, the Garden State has the seventh–largest Central American–born population. Of the seven Latin American countries that constitute the Mesoamerican Region – Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – the latter three have the largest presence in the Garden State and are the main focus of this year's exhibit.

Tikal Temple in Guatemala

Mesoamerican Mosaic: New Jersey's Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran Communities examines the history and growth of these three groups, highlights cultural traditions and contemporary self–expression, looks at their contributions, as well as at the challenges they face, and also shows how these evolving communities are part of a rapidly changing demographic–economic face of New Jersey. The exhibit was curated by Ingrid Betancourt, Project Director, NJ Hispanic Research and Information Center at The Newark Public Library, in partnership with an Exhibition Advisory Committee composed of community members from the Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran Communities.

The Newark Public Library is located at 5 Washington Street on Washington Park in downtown Newark's growing cultural complex. The exhibition is open during regular library hours, Monday through Saturday, with free admission. Group visits and more details are readily available by calling the Sala Hispanoamericana at the Library: 973–733–7772.


Opening Reception
Thursday, September 12 • 6pm • Centennial Hall

This event kicks off the Library's 2013 Hispanic Heritage exhibit and public program series. The evening's festivities will include remarks by representatives from some of New Jersey's Central American communities, a sneak preview of the landmark PBS series "Latino Americans" set to air nationally later in the month, and a dance performance by Grupo Folklórico Salvadoreño Cuzcatlán.

Film Screening
LATINO AMERICANS – The Peril and the Promise

Saturday, September 21 • 2pm • Centennial Hall

Eliseo Medina, left, and Dolores Huerta at a march.
Chicago, Illinois, 1971.

The Newark Library is partnering with PBS to present a sneak preview of The Peril and the Promise, the final episode of the upcoming television series, LATINO AMERICANS. Actor Benjamin Bratt narrates this landmark six–hour series, the first major television documentary series to chronicle the rich and varied history of Latinos, who have for the past 500–plus years helped shape what is today the United States and have become, with more than 50 million people, the largest minority group in the U.S.

The Peril and the Promise focuses on the years 1980 to 2010 and includes the story of hundreds of thousands Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Guatemalans who flee civil wars, death squads and unrest to go north into a new land. It examines the debate over undocumented immigrants and the backlash that eventually includes calls for tightened borders, English–only laws and efforts to brand undocumented immigrants as felons – while simultaneously the Latino influence is booming in music, sports, media, politics and entertainment. To learn more visit:

The screening will be followed by commentary and discussion by a panel of scholars and community leaders. This program is cosponsored by the Friends of the HRIC.

Musical Performance
Marimba players in Antigua Guatemala. Photo credit: Alfredo Bianco Geymet

Saturday, September 28 • 2pm • Centennial Hall

The marimba is the national instrument of Guatemala and has been an important part of traditional celebrations for hundreds of years. A distinguishing feature of the modern Guatemalan marimba is its size and range – it is built to accommodate three or four musicians at once. Each player has a specified area and register to play, much like a choir has bass, tenor, alto, and soprano parts.

Join us for a lively and engaging performance of Guatemala's traditional marimba music and other popular songs from the rest of Latin America – performed by the group Marimba Maya Quetzal.

Established over 14 years ago in New Jersey, this modern marimba group is composed of six professional marimba players from different regions in Guatemala. Marimba Maya Quetzal has performed in the National Museum of the American Indian, in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Giant Stadium and many other venues in tri–state area, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

Film Screening

Saturday, October 5 • 2pm • Auditorium


Ricardo, a Garifuna language teacher, sets out to build a school in his native village in Honduras and fights to keep his endangered language alive in the face of personal betrayal and tourism's encroachment. Compelling, humorous and deeply human, the film examines family strife and the tensions between tradition and assimilation and also addresses the issue of defending the integrity of ancestral lands from exploitative commercial interests – highlighting realities faced not only by the Garifuna, but all indigenous people worldwide. Shot in Los Angeles and Honduras, Garifuna in Peril features a cast of first–time Honduran and Belizean actors.

Film commentary will be provided by José Francisco Ávila, Chairman of the Board of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.

Film trailer:
Youtube (English subtitles)
Youtube (Spanish subtitles)

To learn more about the Garifuna people, please visit:
The Wanaragua masked dance is performed during Garífuna Christmas, New Years festivities and patron saint celebrations.
Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.
Documentary – A Story About the Garifuna

A rich Central American culture is fast disappearing in the wake of immigration and integration. This short documentary film chronicles the challenges and struggles of the Garifuna people to preserve their identity. The story serves as a microcosmic example of the loss of time–honored customs in a world that is increasingly becoming one homogenous international culture.
–A Ben Petersen Film
Brigham Young University Communications Department

Dance Performance

Saturday, November 9 • 2pm • Centennial Hall

Grupo Folklorico Salvadoreno Cuzcatlan in front of San Salvador's Metropolitan Cathedral.
Grupo Folklórico Salvadoreño Cuzcatlán with First Lady of El Salvador, Vanda Pignato.

Grupo Folklórico Salvadoreño Cuzcatlán captures the essence of El Salvador in this exciting show and presents a vibrant showcase of traditional dances from various parts of the country, each with its unique costumes and music. This extraordinary folkloric ballet ensemble – established by the parent organization, Asociación Cultural Salvadoreña Cuzcatlán, is committed to presenting and disseminating Salvadoran culture throughout the tri–state area.



Film Screening
NIÑOS DE LA MEMORIA (Children of Memory)

Saturday, November 16 • 2pm • Auditorium

Margarita Zamora finds the names of her mother and siblings on the Monument to Memory and Truth, San Salvador.

This documentary film sheds light on a little–known episode in the history of El Salvador. It tells the story of the search for hundreds of children, now adults, who disappeared during the Salvadoran civil war. Many were "sold" into adoption in the U.S. and Europe. Margarita Zamora, one of three protagonists in the film, is an investigator for a Salvadoran human rights organization who searches for disappeared children – including her own four siblings.Niños de la Memoria weaves three separate yet intertwined journeys in the search for family, identity and justice in El Salvador, and asks the larger question: How can a post–war society right the wrongs of the past?

There will be a post-screening discussion with filmmaker Kathryn Smith Pyle.


• Census Bureau News — Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

• Pew Research Hispanic Trends project

• Central American Immigrants in the United States

• Inmigrantes Centroamericanos en los Estados Unidos

An Immigrant's Journey
An indigenous family walks from Guatemala into Talisman, Mexico, after illegally crossing the border at the Suchiate River, on August 1, 2013. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Earlier this year, Getty Images photographer John Moore traveled south to the Mexico–Guatemala border, where Central American immigrants cross the Suchiate River, beginning their long and perilous journey north through Mexico. He traveled with some of the thousands of immigrants who ride atop freight trains, known as "la bestia," or the Beast, toward the U.S. border. He captured not only images of their difficult journey, but the faces of these travelers, their stories, told through compelling portraits taken in shelters and jails along the way.

All programs are free and open to the general public. For additional information, please call 973–733–7772 (Sala Hispanoamericana) or email

This year's Hispanic Heritage Celebration is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.


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