By Catherine O’Grady
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, Catholic University hosted “A Celebration of Mexican Independence” held in Pryzbyla Center Great Room A. The event started at 5:30 p.m. and ended at 9 p.m. consisting of a panel of notable speakers who discussed topics that have affected Mexico’s past, present, and future.
The Mexican Declaration of Independence, which the Catholic University Archives possesses, was on display as well as multiple other important documents from the time period. The event was catered by Casa Oxacaca, the “most authentic Mexican food in Washington D.C.” according to Alberto Alejandre, the host of the event as well as the man responsible for the event’s creation.
Catholic University has the original Mexican Declaration of Independence because of Louise Kearney Itrubide who donated a collection of documents to Msgr. James Magner, a priest on campus in the 1950’s. Louise Kearney Itrubide was the wife of Agustin de Iturbide, an emperor of Mexico who was forced to abdicate his throne during the Mexican War of Independence from Spain.
The event was hosted by multiple organizations from Catholic University and Georgetown including University Libraries, Catholic University Archives, Network of Professional Mexicans in D.C. (Mex D.C.), the Georgetown University Graduate and Undergraduate Student Association of Mexican Students, and the Latin American Student Association.
Provost Aaron Dominguez welcomed the audience on behalf of the University to the celebration of Mexican history and culture. Dominguez shared the impact his Mexican heritage has had on his upbringing and his life and stressed the importance of the documents present in the room.
“We have with us one of the most important documents that led to the independence of our people,” said Dominguez. “It’s a powerful statement of a people’s God-given rights of freedom and self determination. This, I think, is our shared American history… American as in from the Americas.”
Dominguez went on to share the importance of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to American religious culture, especially in Mexican culture. He broke down the cultural significance of the details in the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, including the black band around her waist which, to indeginious cultures in Mexico, traditionally meant she was pregnant.
Dr. Julia Young, historian of migration, Mexico and Latin America, Catholicism in the Americas and a professor at Catholic, was invited to speak as well. She shared a brief history of the end of the Mexican War of Independence, more specifically, Army of the Three Guarantees and its connection to Grande Iguala, written by Agustín de Iturbide 1821.
Young was followed by Alberto Alejandre, who spoke to the audience in Spanish. The rest of the evening continued with more lectures and an invitation to the audience to approach and view the historic documents.