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More Than Sugar Skulls: Día de los Muertos Celebration Celebrates Chicano Identity

November 2nd is Día de los Muertos, a Mexican tradition in which our loved ones, who are no longer with us in the physical world, are celebrated and remembered. This is a holiday that is tied to the history of Los Angeles. Sequoyah will join in on this celebration with different events throughout the day, hosted by the Equity Alliance Committee, one of the high school’s Stewardship committees.

According to Marisol Perez, Spanish teacher and one of the faculty members overseeing the Equity Alliance Committee, Día de los Muertos “is a holiday that was promoted in Los Angeles at a time when young Mexican and Mexican-American people were empowering themselves by recovering and celebrating their Mexican heritage and culture.”

Perez provided further insight on the history of Día de los Muertos in Los Angeles, saying: “It has been celebrated here for the last 45 years. The reason why we started celebrating it in Los Angeles is because during the Civil Rights movement, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans started taking a great interest in promoting their culture and feeling proud of it. Día de los Muertos is one of the traditions that was rooted in their native culture and that was an important part of recovering their past and feeling pride in their identity.”

The Equity Alliance is collaborating with the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church to build an altar in Ross Chapel. Perez added, “The altar will consist of a variety of items that may remind someone of a loved one whether that may be a family member, a friend, a pet, any person or being that was significant to them and would like to remember and celebrate their lives.” Everybody within the community is encouraged to add an item to the altar.

Along with the altar, the committee will be giving out different treats that are significant to not just the celebration of Día de los Muertos, but to Mexican culture. According to tenth grader Allison Diaz, member of the Equity Alliance committee, “In the morning, we [members of the committee], similar to last year, will be giving out arroz con leche and pan de muertos.” Parents of one of the committee’s members will help out by making and giving out arroz con leche to students as they walk into school. The bread will be purchased from the Monarca Bakery, which has donated baked goods to the committee before for Día de los Muertos.

During lunch, there will be a screening of “Coco” in Room 21. This Pixar film is about the journey of Miguel, a young boy trying to pursue his passion in music. Obstacles in his path lead him to travel to the Land of the Dead. All this takes place in the time of Día de los Muertos. Popcorn will be provided to those who attend. Rounds of Lotería, a game similar to bingo but in Spanish, will also be available for students to play during lunch.

Tenth grader Angelique Rivanis, another member of the Equity Alliance Committee, shared the importance of celebrating such a tradition at school, saying that it, “Is an opportunity for the school to come together and learn about the way a different culture celebrates this time of month.” Rivanis added, “I think we are so used to other holidays like Halloween that this would be a good opportunity to learn about a culture that may not be yours. And if it is, to learn more about it and to really feel like others are appreciating it, too.”