The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association hosted its third annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at the Brooklyn Bar Association building on Wednesday night. This year’s theme was “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.”
The event, which was co-sponsored by the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, featured a speech by New York City Councilmember Alexa Avilés and featured a musical and dance performance by Juan Cartagena and the Segunda Quimbamba Folklore Center.
“It’s great that we’re all coming together in this way to celebrate our people, our culture and our history,” said Catherine Gonzalez, co-chair of the BWBA’s Hispanic Heritage Month Committee along with Raquel Miranda.
Miranda introduced Avilés, who represents Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights, and portions of Windsor Terrace, Dyker Heights and Borough Park. Miranda explained that the BWBA asked Avilés to speak because of her background and her record of service helping the Hispanic community.
“Her resume is really incredible,” Miranda said of Avilés. “It’s all about helping poor people in New York City. Just look at the juvenile justice programs she has worked on, it’s really an incredible resume that is all about giving back to the community. She is a wise Latina who has excelled in service to the community and for that reason we honor her here today.”
Avilés was quick to remind people that even though it was a festive occasion that many people are worried about Hurricane Ian, which was scheduled to hit Western Florida within two hours of the start of Wednesday’s event.
“Yesterday, Hurricane Ian battered Cuba and it’s now hitting Florida and we sit with nervous pits in our stomach, ” Avilés said. “Just a few days ago, another hurricane hit Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, almost on the exact day that Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.”
Avilés brought the mood back up, though, by discussing some words of healing.
“Culture heals,” Avilés said. “It is so important to connect with your ancestral ways, your songs, your foods, your dances. When you lean into culture you become more expansive. You understand that there are multiple ways of knowing.”
Jovia Radix, the BWBA’s president- elect, then spoke briefly and introduced Juan Cartagena and the Segunda Quimbamba Folklore Center. She also shared a few words on the event and the diversity of the association.
“Year by year we are shown the great importance of inclusion and diversity,” Radix said. “We continue to learn what respecting and appreciating the culture and history of our friends and colleagues can do to strengthen our union, our nation, our friendships, our communities and our associations.”