By Kat Harper

Lone Star College-Kingwood celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, with a series of lectures and events dedicated to Hispanic culture and heritage and no one is prouder of their heritage than Professor Juan M. Galván-Rodríguez. 

Galván was born in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico and came to the US at the age of 19 years old. Influenced by stories told by his mother, Galván believed history was everything. Inspired Juan Galván pursued a higher education, eventually earning a doctorate in history at the University of Houston.

Professor Galván gave a lecture and presentation that focused on the African roots in Mexico titled “Yanga and the Fugitive Slave Communities of Mexico.” Gaspar Yanga, an African prince-turned slave, was known as the first liberator of slaves in the Americas. Yanga led a rebellion of 80 fugitive slaves who resisted against a Spanish colonial army comprised of nearly 500 forces in 1608. Today, the place of Yanga’s rebellion is a city named after him, in the coastal state of Veracruz. To further celebrate his resistance, the town celebrates an annual carnival to celebrate Yanga and his warriors.

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Juan Manuel Galván-Rodriguez lecturing on the African roots in Mexico in Lone Star College-Kingwood’s Student Conference Center’s conference room. Photo By Kat Harper, October 2018.

To Galván, Hispanic Heritage means, “an occasion of being able to emphasize Latin American culture.” The month of September has other connotations for Galván. September celebrates Mexico’s call to arms for independence from Spain in 1810.  Additionally, for Galván, the sizeable number of Latin Americans in LSC-Kingwood and Texas further accentuate the need for knowledge of Hispanic culture in the LSC System.

Galván wants Hispanic students to not be ashamed of their culture, which is something he reiterates through Hispanic Heritage month and his teachings. What he hopes students take away from Hispanic Heritage month is, “the idea that we have a right to be here.” Galván wishes to, “push back against the idea that we don’t belong here,” by emphasizing that many Hispanic people can trace back their roots to Native American people, and natives belong here.

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