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Convocation speaker discusses the past and future of Utah Latinos

Dr. Armando Solorzano discussed the history of Latinos in Utah, a minority population shift in the nation and in Utah
Dr. Armando Solorzano discussed the history of Latinos in Utah, a minority population shift in the nation and in Utah – Photo courtesy Brian Vega

 

Convocation speaker discusses the past and future of Utah Latinos

 

Daniela Vazquez 

Staff writer

9-29-2016

 

Ephraim—To celebrate Latino Heritage Month, Snow College invited Dr. Armando Solorzano to speak at a convocation about Latin culture and how and why Latinos in the Beehive State have chosen to make this land their home.

He presented a slideshow that illustrated a timeline of Latinos in the state and presented photos of petro glyphs found in Sego Canyon, Grand County, of the Aztec fertility goddess, which Solorzano says supports the theory that the Aztec Calendar began in Utah about 6,000 years ago during the Archaic Period.

“We have very strong roots here, and it’s important for that to be known,” he said. “They call out at us and say, ‘hey you, go back home;’ well, this is home. We don’t have any other place to go. This is the land of our ancestors.”

Latinos have participated in the industrialization of the state for over 100 years working on the railroads and mines, Solorzano explained. In addition to involvement in early industrial movements, they also helped Southern Utah flourish with cultural diversity, he said.

Solorzano says he believes that in order to help open the minds of society, Latino people must be educated well enough to extend their knowledge throughout communities to reverse societies’ misconceptions of the people and facts.

He suggested to convocation attendees that by 2040, the Caucasian population will be 49 percent, and will then be considered the minority. He asked if the nation is ready for such a population shift and, if not, what is being done to prepare for such a shift

Solorzano said the time to open our minds and look at a multi-cultural and diverse Utah and nation is upon us and that conceptualizations have forced perceptions to change.

He coined the phrase, “Without land, there is no culture; without culture, there is no identity; without identity, there is no people,” then said, “The future, I believe, is Latino. We want to contribute. We want to share with everybody. Please open a little window and look at the possibility of Utah being diverse.”

In closing he asked the audience to be sensitive to culture and live by true American values which are synonymous with love, openness, fairness, justice, and giving to the poor.

“Instead of creating walls, let’s create bridges so we can communicate with each other and make this country the best country that the human civilization has ever seen.”

Dr. Armando Solorzano, associate professor in family and consumer studies and ethnic studies at the University of Utah, has studied the contributions of Latino’s in Utah for over 28 years. His book “We remember, We Celebrate, We Believe; Recuerdo, Celebracion, y Esperanza: Latinos in Utah,” was awarded the Meritorious Book of the Year by the Utah Division of State History and the Utah Historical Society last year.

Solorzano created a photo-documentary exhibiting the 2006 Dignity March of Immigrants in Utah, which is still the largest march in Utah history, and the visual history of Latinos in the Beehive State, which has been visited by over 150,000 people during the exhibition around the state and nation.