¡Presente!, St. Olaf's Latino cultural organization, is the sponsor of activities surrounding Cinco de Mayo, including Día sin Latinos and Viva La Raza.
Sometimes mistakenly perceived by Americans as the celebration of Mexican independence, El Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French expeditionary forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
While originally solely a celebration of this event, the definition of Cinco de Mayo has expanded as the celebration has grown across the United States.
¡Presente! President Sophia McComb '07 said, We in ¡Presente! try to officially stick with the original definition. For so many Americans, Cinco de Mayo means Coronas and Mexican independence, while in reality it is a celebration of freedom and liberty and how alive Latino culture really is.
Cinco de Mayo is the last day of the weeks of Viva La Raza. The Viva La Raza movement began with the Chicano Revolution, which McComb described as second generation immigrants standing up for their rights.
It is a celebration of the race, the belief in a spiritual union between Mexicans in the United States and in Mexico said Anna Steel '07, Diversity Celebrations Committee (DCC) representative for ¡Presente!
Día sin Latinos is another event linked with Viva La Raza. Observed on May 1, also the worldwide Labor Day, Día sin Latinos is a national movement to demonstrate to America what the nation looks like without Latinos, Steel said.
On this day, Latinos and immigrants walk out of their schools and workplaces, hence demonstrating the much-needed presence of Latinos in our society. People supporting the cause show solidarity by wearing white.
In light of current legislation about immigration, immigrants, especially those from Latin America, are at the front of people's mind, Steel said. Cinco de Mayo needs to be not only a celebration of Latino culture, but a powerful reminder of how essential Latinos are to our American culture.
To commemorate the end of Viva La Raza weeks, ¡Presente! is throwing a reggaeton dance party in the Pause on Friday, as part of Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Reggaeton is the fusion of reggae, latin and hip-hop beats and is wildly popular throughout the Americas a lively reminder of Latino cultural influence.
Celebrating freedom and liberty, Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity to appreciate unity. McComb invoked the words of Kirsten Ketter 05, We are Mexican, we are white, we are native but we are all one race: the human race. That is what Viva La Raza is about, what we are all celebrating in Cinco de Mayo.