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hispanic heritage month event

The 8th Annual Hispanic Heritage Month State Commemoration took place on Friday, October 10, at the Capitol Building in Lincoln, Neb.

The Commemoration was presented by the Nebraska Latino American Commission (NLAC) and sponsored by McDonald's, Southeast Community College, Humanities Nebraska, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. The event honored Latinos and organizations across the state while observing Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month in Nebraska.

Chabella Guzman, Chair of the NLAC Board of Directors, gave the Welcome to the audience of 140 people. The new Consul of Mexico, Guadalupe Sanchez, provided Opening Remarks in both English and Spanish recommending a better understanding between the two nations and encouraging residents from both countries to be bilingual in one another’s language.

Carl Eskridge, Lincoln City Council Chair, presented the Proclamation signed by Governor Dave Heineman to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month. Six Nebraska students, two organizations and two community leaders were honored at this year’s Commemoration. NLAC Director Dr. Lazaro Spindola served as emcee.

The Keynote Speaker was Cecilia Garcia-Akers, daughter of Latino civil rights leader Dr. Hector P. Garcia and founder of the Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation. Dr. Garcia was a leader in civil and veterans rights, and the only nationally recognized Latino rights leader with a tie to Nebraska. Dr. Garcia completed his medical residency at Creighton University in Omaha after he was not accepted to any medical schools in Texas due to being a Mexican-American. After World War II, he began his lifetime career in public service including founding the American GI Forum, a national organization for veterans and veteran rights. Dr. Garcia was instrumental in repealing the poll tax, publicizing the working conditions of laborers and bringing awareness to discrimination among Latinos from the 1940s until his death in 1996. He was the first Mexican-American to be appointed ambassador to the United Nations and the first Mexican-American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“To honor my father: finish your education, be respectful to others, register to vote and go vote,” she said.
Garcia-Akers received a standing ovation from the audience of students and community members.

To learn more, visit the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation.

Award Recipients
This year the four Hispanic Heritage Month Award recipients are:

  • Humanitarian Award: Ismael Valadez of South Sioux City, a leader who has spent years giving back to the community and helping Latino youth.
  • Inspiration Award: Candida Kraska of Omaha, an educator at Millard West High School who has promoted Latino culture and heritage with her students.
  • Organization Award: OneWorld Health Community Center of Omaha, a non-profit that has provided services to more than 10,000 people in the area of health care.
  • Event Award: Dia de los Muertos event at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, a free family event that brings the popular Mexican holiday to the masses.

Essay Contest Winners
We will recognize our six Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest Winners and our first place winners will read their essay to the audience. 

The High School winners are:
First Place: Helen Guadalupe Martinez of Harry A. Burke High School
Second Place: Maria Ruiz of Lexington High School
Third Place: Nikki Yablonski of Harry A. Burke High School

The Middle School winners are:
First Place: Jacquelin Grado of Schuyler Middle School
Second Place: Alexis Chytil of Morton Magnet Middle School
Third Place: Laura Liu of Brownell-Talbot Middle School

El Centro de las Americas hosted a reception at Taco Cantina to further celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. 


The State of Nebraska Governor's Office has released a list of current and upcoming openings on Boards and Commissions that are appointed by the Governor.

The Latino American Commission is also accepting applications for Commissioner. The responsibilities of a Commissioner includes attending our Quarterly Meetings, participating in general discussions and meeting with state legislators concerning legislation affecting Latinos. Our meetings take place in different cities throughout the year. Commissioners are reimbursed for travel expenses and overnight lodging. Applicant qualifications include being a good civic citizen/steward with an awareness of local issues, and have a strong desire to get involved with issues concerning Latinos within the state of Nebraska.

Commissioner duties include providing direction and evaluation concerning policies affecting the Latino population in the following areas: existing programs, proposed legislation, educational needs and impact of new immigration meetings.

Commissioners are appointed by the state Governor for a period of three years.

If interested, please complete the online application prior to the end of the month of their deadlines:

If you have questions about requirements for any of the Boards or Commissions listed please contact Kathleen Dolezal at 402-471-1971 or email:

NET special segment on Dia de los Muertos

NET Television presents a special segment of "Nebraska Stories" on Dia de los Muertos celebrated in Nebraska. Dia de los Muertos is, above all, a celebration of life. Come with us to the Sheldon Museum of Art and the Bancroft Gallery in South Omaha as we look death in the eye with humor, music, dancing—and art.

NLAC collaborated with NET to help bring the special segment to the public, "Nebraska Stories" available in its entirety below:

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