Cervantes Society holds Hispanic Heritage Month opening ceremony at Brooklyn Supreme
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Francios Rivera presided over the 24th annual Hispanic Heritage Month opening ceremony hosted by the Cervantes Society of the Courts of the State of New York last Friday.
“This is an important occasion, the opening ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month here in Kings County,” said Charles Small, chief clerk of the Supreme Court, Civil Term. “It’s a really good thing to delve into one’s culture, into one’s history. Hispanic heritage has become a large part of our culture in the U.S. and it’s really a good thing to celebrate it.”
About 75 judges, lawyers, court employees and students filled the Surrogate’s Court for the event that featured keynote speaker Dahlma Llanos Figueroa, author of “Daughters of the Stone,” Raquel Acevedo-Klein and singing and dancing performances from students of P.S. 151 in Bushwick.
“I’m so happy to see these wonderful children whose school I attended so many years ago, 151 in Bushwick,” said Major Luz Bryan, president of the Cervantes Society. “It’s our 24th year. I’d like to thank our Surrogate’s Court judge Margarita Lopez Torres and judge Harriet Thompson for allowing us to use their courtroom.”
The students from P.S. 151 led the room in the pledge of allegiance and followed that up with a rendition of “A La Nanita Nana.” Sgt. Michael Garcia performed the benediction. Acevedo-Klein, producer of “Se Levanta,” performed the national anthem.
When Justice Rivera introduced Llanos-Figueroa, he explained that the title of her book immediately intrigued him.
“(The book) speaks to the family and understanding your roots and seeing where you come from,” the judge said. “It’s an incredible book.”
Llanos-Figueroa, from the South Bronx and raised in Puerto Rico, was a public school teacher for 32 years before she became an author. She was a fitting speaker for Hispanic Heritage month because, she explained, her stories are influenced by oral tradition from Puerto Rico.
“I wanted to talk about stories, stories that are passed down. And that happens in every culture,” Llanos-Figueroa said. “That is not unique to us. It’s a celebration about our heritage, but also a celebration of what we have in common.
“My experience being in Puerto Rico enriched my life so much because one of the things I did was to sit on the porch with my grandmother and her friends listening to them telling stories,” she continued. “I was a child not allowed to say anything, but I would sit in the doorway, and a lot of what I write today has to do with those stories that I heard.”
The event ended with a dance performance by the “LBJ” Dance Group from P.S. 151. The students, dressed in bright outfits, performed traditional dances. Ms. Klasewitz was the chorus coordinator and Ms. Estevez was the dance coordinator.
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