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Center receives Latino Americans: 500 Years of History grant

Friday, February 19, 2016

LAWRENCE — A grant awarded to the University of Kansas and partners will support a series of events in the area about Latino American history and culture.

The grant is part of the Latino Americans: 500 Years of History program supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and American Library Association. The proposal from KU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, along with the Lawrence Public Library, The Tonantzin Society of Topeka and KU Libraries, was among 203 grant recipients nationwide. 

The programming complements the six-part, NEH-supported PBS documentary film series “Latino Americans” (2013). The award-winning series chronicles the history of Latinos in the United States from the 16th century to present day. 

Throughout the month of April, screenings of episodes will be held in Topeka and Lawrence and followed by discussions with leading scholars. Other program highlights:

  • An exhibition on Latino history in Kansas at KU that will start during the month of April and continue through May. International Collections, Watson Library, fifth floor.
  • Opening reception and keynote with special guest Yajaira Padilla, associate professor of Latin American & Latino studies, University of Arkansas. Reception at 5:30 p.m., keynote at 6:30 p.m. April 6. Watson Library, third floor.
  • Closing reception and talk, “Cuentos We Live: Cuentos que Vivimos,” with special guest Jeanette Rodriguez, author and professor of Latin American and U.S. Hispanic theology and religion, Seattle University.  7 p.m. April 29, Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University.

The Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies will also work with community partners to put a spotlight on stories of the region’s Latino community. In partnership with the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, the center will host a workshop for National Park Service educators to focus on opportunities to highlight Latino/a heritage in the Midwest. The center is also partnering with the Lawrence Public Library and with KU’s Department of Film & Media Studies class on Digital Storytelling to collect and share the stories of the Latino American community in Lawrence. 

“Latino Americans are the country’s largest minority group, with more than 50 million people, and still many people are unaware of their rich and varied history and culture. I’m thrilled that the KU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, along with our partner organizations, has this opportunity to advance this topic in our community,” said Santa Arias, director of the center.

All events and exhibits will be free and open to the public.  For more information and the schedule of events, visit or contact Danika Swanson at 785-864-3899 or

“Latino Americans: 500 Years of History” is part of an NEH initiative, “The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square.” KU received another grant through the initiative last fall. The Kansas African Studies Center received $140,000 to launch public discussions, community programming and the creation of educational resources in local communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding recent demographic changes in the region.

Both centers are part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, KU’s broadest and most diverse academic unit. 



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The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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