Hispanic Culture Celebrated in Leadville Today
Month-Long Event Highlights Heritage
Kicking off the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations in Leadville Today is a special program for children 6 – 11 years of age: Ballet Folklorico! What an incredible opportunity for ALL younger people to learn from visiting artist Sara Paraz with an evening of Mexican arts, crafts, and folk dance.
Paraz is the founder of Ballet Folkloria in Elgin, Texas. Baile folklórico is a collective term for traditional Mexican dances that emphasize local folk culture with ballet characteristics – pointed toes, exaggerated movements, highly choreographed. The program will be held at The Old Church (8th & Harrison) from 5 – 8 p.m. on September 18 and include a fiesta of fantastic foods from all cultures! Space is limited. Details here and en Espanol.
Felicidades a Hispanic Heritage Month!
Hispanic Heritage Month, a 30-day commemoration, always starts on September 15, a historically significant day marking the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The observance was born in 1968 when Congress authorized the president to issue an annual proclamation designating National Hispanic Heritage Week. Two decades later, lawmakers expanded it to a monthlong celebration, stretching from September 15 to October 15.
Closer to home in Lake County and joining in the festivities, many Mexicans celebrated their Independence Day on September 16 and several smaller, local fiestas are planned for this weekend. Felicdades a todo!
How to Support Hispanic Heritage Month
Less than a quarter-century ago, they were a bit more off the main street, but Hispanic-owned businesses have been a strong thread in the economic fabric of Lake County for much longer than that. However, as the third decade of the new millennium plays out, these entrepreneurs are front and center, on historic Harrison Avenue and along Highway 24. They are a vital part of the present-day operations in America’s highest city.
Have you stopped into La Victoria Tienda Mexicana on Harrison? What about Casa Sanchez? Video Murillo has been at the corner of Highway 24 and E. 13th Street for decades – have you ever supported this business? Take a cruise downtown and you can see the line out the door of D’Love Gourmet Coffee ‘n’ Ice Cream. All of these are thriving Hispanic-owned operations – and franchises in some cases!
Over the past decade, Leadville Today has written about some of these establishments, from The Casa Blanca to the closing of The Grill after 5 decades. In addition, LT has reported on the events celebrating Hispanic culture, sharing those images on social media and watching as these memories are shared by hundreds, and then thousands of family members living south of the border. It is an honor to share these stories as they are a special part of what makes Leadville a true community and not a resort town.
Fiestas Patrias in Leadville, Colorado (2018/Brennan Ruegg)
Where in The World? Dr. Mundo
By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today
He is one of the biggest academic success stories to come out of the Lake County School District in the 21st century. But if you ask his classmates from the Class of 2010, he’s still just Will.
Doctor William Mundo, that is. And if becoming a First-Generation physician in his family’s history wasn’t enough to make two “immigrants from Acapulco, Mexico” proud, the LCHS Alum added author to his list of accomplishments last spring. The book, “Margins to Medicine” is Dr. Mundo’s account of his journey to pursue The American Dream. In it, Mundo delivers a health equity guide that discusses the intersections of medicine with critical race theory alongside public health and the social determinants of health. While a hot topic in newsfeeds and school board meetings, for the LCSD the message had a different hue.
“I would always sit with my friends in the back of the library just so we could mess around. When one of the speakers asked the audience, who was interested in going to college, several hands went up. But as I looked at my friends, we all didn’t raise our hands. I knew that college was a word that meant nothing to us. . . Besides, we all knew that people like us did not go to college.”
That was 2010 – in Leadville, which is important because Mundo did NOT reveal the location of his formative education, describing it as “rural Colorado” instead. In full disclosure, Will was my student during the years I was a substitute teacher in the school district teaching grades K – 12, in English, and in Spanish. I remember Will fondly, a sentiment he returned during a private conversation.
Yet still, it was hard to read his account from his first literary project: “When I decided to share with people that I wanted to become a doctor, many laughed, and others discouraged me. Someone said to me, “Mexicans don’t become doctors; they become laborers for construction instead.”
At that point, LT choose to shelf the review but did reach out to Dr. Mundo for comment, specifically asking “about the noticeable absence of mentioning Leadville. Was there a reason you choose not to identify Lake County as the community that provided your elementary education, instead referring to this mountain community as “rural” Colorado?
In short, the doctor’s response seemed a soft underhand pitch for a topic that is likely to continue to make headlines, especially over the next 30-days: “the main reason why I did that was to be able to protect the identity of the people in the book especially as becomes available worldwide,” wrote the author who is also currently is a medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
But if any city can learn from Dr. Mundo’s experience, it’s the very one the doctor claims to be protecting. So in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I encourage you to order his book. Download it from Amazon. Read it. Then, if it inspires you, get involved.
Regardless of the Leadville void, the book is comprehensive, integrating Mundo’s personal story with first-hand reportage of the health inequalities that the US currently faces, as well as critical analysis of the root causes and finally, a vision for the next generation of New Americans. It will not be the first time this Leadville-educated healthcare leader will make headlines!
As for Dr. Mundo, tu maestra sustituta Miss Bedell encourages you to start an honest conversation with this community about what equity truly looks like. To choose the recommended advice of silence from attorneys does not help the very Leadville schools that gave you a primary education, an opportunity, even despite its challenges. To Will, I remember that fresh-faced, engaging young student who was a natural-born leader even in those early elementary school days. Que Bueno por ti, mi estudiante! Felicidades!
It would be great to see Will return to Leadville Today, to mentor the next generation of students, telling his honest, complete story. Listo?
The most valuable thing I have learned is that we can address the health issues of communities that traditionally do not trust the health care system by being culturally responsive. Health is one of the most personal possessions anyone has. It takes a lot to trust another individual with your life and health altogether. – Dr. William Mundo
Honoring Tradition and Our Lady of Guadalupe
One of the most prominent local Hispanic events is Leadville’s annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession and Celebration. Youth dancers from the Holy Family Catholic Parish in Leadville make a procession from St. Joseph Church through the streets of Leadville with the final destination at Annunciation Church. Once at the church, the performers put on a celebratory dance commemorating the December 12th feast day of the Blessed Mother of Jesus Chris also known in the Hispanic culture as Our Lady of Guadeloupe.
While the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe is religious in nature, the local celebration is deeply immersed in the Hispanic culture, from the costumes to the impressively endless dancing, to the long, lively fiestas! It’s a celebration like none other in Leadville. All of these events are free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe and enjoy this very special spiritual and cultural event which hopefully will return – en todo – to Leadville this year.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Procession in Leadville