WMU News

Prominent journalist keynote speaker for Hispanic Heritage Month

Sept. 23, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Juan Gonzalez, a columnist for the New York Daily News, is the keynote speaker for Western Michigan University's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, which began Sept. 15 and will conclude Oct. 14.

A national observance, the month is intended to recognize Hispanic culture and contributions to American society.

Gonzalez, who is known for his hard-hitting columns on topics such as the labor movement, race relations and inner city problems, will speak on "Minorities and the News Media" from 10:30 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 8, in Room 208 of WMU's Bernhard Center. The public is invited to attend this free presentation.

A journalist for more than 20 years, Gonzalez began his career as a reporter with the Philadelphia Daily News. Since 1988, he has been a staff columnist with the Daily News, covering everything from the O.J. Simpson trial and Heaven's Gate mass suicide to political turmoil in Latin America and the U.S. invasion of Panama.

He is the author of two books, "Roll Down Your Window: Stories from a Forgotten America," which was published in 1995, and "Harvest of Empire: The History of Latinos in America," which is scheduled for release this coming March. His articles have appeared in numerous national and Latino publications.

Gonzalez, a native of Puerto Rico, has won several awards, including the 1998 George Polk Award for commentary and lifetime achievement awards from the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences and the National Council of La Raza.

He is a founding member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and of UNITY, the coalition of African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American journalists. He also helped found the Young Lords, a militant civil rights organization of the l960s, and the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights in the 1970s.

In addition to the talk by Gonzalez, WMU's observance of Hispanic Heritage Month will include two other special events.

On Sept. 30, Conrad Valle, assistant district director for minority enterprise development at the U.S. Small Business Administration's Detroit office, will present "Disadvantaged Small Businesses in Michigan" at 6:30 p.m. in Room 211 of the Bernhard Center. On Oct. 14, the month's activities will conclude with a panel discussion of issues affecting Puerto Rico at 7 p.m. The location has yet to be determined.

WMU's Hispanic Heritage Month activities are being sponsored by Minority Affairs, the Latino Student Alliance, the Student Assessment Fee, and Sigma Lambda Beta. For more information, contact Miguel A. Ramirez, coordinator of Latino programs, at (616) 387-3329.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Media Advisory: To arrange an interview with Juan Gonzalez, contact Miguel A. Ramirez, WMU's coordinator of Latino programs, at 616 387-3329.

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