Latino Voices: Public Presentations
The project received great media coverage, both locally and from Wasatch Front newspapers. Although much of this coverage was positive, blogs associated with several articles included vitriolic posts which confirmed to us that our efforts to preserve and present the life experiences of Cache Valley Latinos was and is vital. We carried this mission forward by holding public presentations.
In October 2007, Méndez and Williams presented the project at the Cache Community Connections’ Tabernacle and Lecture Series at the Logan LDS Tabernacle. Approximately 50 people attended, where a question and answer session led to a particularly interesting discussion. Following the presentation several individuals shared with us their interest in oral history work for their community/group, including Providence City, the Logan Presbyterian Church and the Cache Community Connection organization. These contacts have since enabled Williams to hold oral history presentations or workshops for each of these groups. All of these groups have conducted and completed oral history projects for their organizations; and the Cache Valley Presbyterian Church (FOLK COLL 44) and Cache Community Connections (FOLK COLL 47) have deposited their oral history projects in USU Libraries’ SCA.
In an effort to analyze the LVP project Méndez and Williams organized a symposium and in September 2008 invited all the LVP interviewees, interviewers, advisory board members and some community members. Twenty participants, ranging in age from seventeen to seventy attended. Participants were asked to read selections from the LVP oral histories prior to the symposium to guide discussion. While preparing the readings, Williams, R. Méndez notes four major themes in the “voices” of the participants: social/political, family, work, and community. USU scholars, participants of the projects, were asked to moderate each theme group. From the vibrant discussions at the symposium, Williams, Méndez, M. Spicer-Escalante, Eduardo Ortiz and JP Spicer-Escalante prepared short essays about the project and themes. At present, Ortiz, M. Spicer-Escalante and Williams are working on Latino/a Voices II, an effort to enhance the LVP by adding youth perspectives to the collection by collaborating with students in Mountain Crest High School’s Latino Discovery.
Along the way, Méndez and Williams received a Utah Humanities Council Human Ties Award on behalf of the effort. The publicity kept the LVP in the spotlight and paved the way for further donations into a subset of the LVP, including Mountain Crest High School’s yearly Latinos in Action class publications A Journey to the American Dream: One World, Many Countries, One Family, One Purpose (2010) and In Hope of a Better Future: Making our Parents' Sacrifice Worth it (2011); Utah Latinos: A Proud Legacy, Vol. 1 and 2; and OKEspanol (formerly El Observador de Utah), Spanish language newspaper published once by the Deseret News.
From concept to (near) completion, the Latino/a Voices Project works to strengthen SCA’s Latino holdings. From the insightful oral histories and commentary of forty five Latino community members to the engaging symposium from which central themes from the histories were discussed and short essays inform the collections’ digital presentation the LVP was a success. But, most importantly the collection is a robust beginning of Latino community connections and community involvement in Utah State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives.