When Roberto Vargas, a N.C. Central University public administration graduate student, saw Spanish heritage month advertised on AudioNet in James E. Shepard library, he was disappointed.
“It was very sad to see that it was posted on a TV screen with no sound,” said Vargas. “How is the word getting out?”
Although N.C. Central is an HBCU, many students don’t know of the brothers and sisters that are Afro Latinos with a strong heritage that ties them together. Afro Latinos are Latin American individuals who hold significant African ancestry in their blood. They relate and understand that they are black, but aren’t always understood in that way. The student body is made up of 78% African Americans, 2% Caucasian, and 1.2% Hispanic.
NCCU students Hector Pichardo, Laura Acosta, Nathalie Bravo Batista, Roberto Vargas and Kleyser Agueda agree that growing up, they weren’t educated about their culture or roots. When deciding to further their education, they wanted an environment that they not only felt comfortable in, but could relate to.
“I feel like at an HBCU, I would feel at home,” said pharmaceutical sciences sophomore Nathalie Bravo Batista. “I want to be close to people who have my same background.”
Marco Polo Hernandez-Cuevas, an advocate for the Afro Latino culture and professor of Spanish and Afro-Hispanic Studies, started two Afro Latino clubs from 2008 to 2012. He helped bring students together to educate and fulfill their desires and needs.
As time flew by, his students who were affiliated with the Afro Latino club graduated, but Hector Pichardo, a business and administration sophomore decided it was time to bring it back to the light. He strives to educate and unite each other as a whole.
“We try to help those academically,” Pichardo said. “It comes down to bringing this diversity all together.”
According to Pichardo, the Afro Latino club emphasizes accepting oneself and educating the people around them, and being the voice of their culture and how they’re represented as a whole. He said it’s about family environment for those who are lost or confused.
Pichardo said working with the community will be the bridge and structure for the Afro Latino club and a way to reach out to other students. “We want to build a network so that it doesn’t stop here.”
The Afro Latino Club plans to launch as soon as possible with the help of Cuevas as a guide for students in an educative, productive and positive way.
“We’re all the same,” Bravo Batista said. “We can show you how beautiful and amazing we are. Get together and make something big out of this!”