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Last modified: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Actor-activist Esai Morales' speech highlights National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at IU

Sept. 11, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Actor Esai Morales will deliver a keynote address on Indiana University's Bloomington campus this fall, part of the university's annual celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Morales will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at IU Cinema, just before the screening of "Gun Hill Road." The Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Nominee film follows Enrique, played by Morales, as he returns home from a three-year stint in prison and struggles with changing times and forces that threaten to tear his family apart.

Morales made his feature film debut in "Bad Boys" opposite Sean Penn and received critical acclaim for his other roles, including Lt. Tony Rodriguez on the Emmy Award-winning television series "NYPD Blue." Morales co-founded the National Hispanic Foundation, which works to advance the presence and quality of Latinos in media, telecommunications and entertainment.

Additional events are planned as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Highlights include:

  • "A Changed America?" 7 p.m. Sept. 20, IU Asian Culture Center, 807 E. 10th St. Panel discussion hosted by IU's Asian and Latino cultural centers will focus on the cultural effects of the growing number of Asian and Latino immigrants in the U.S.
  • "Latinos and Politicos," 7 p.m. Sept. 25, La Casa, 715 E. Seventh St. Discussion will examine the influence Latinos have had on elections throughout history, followed by current national concerns.
  • "Salsa Under the Stars," 7 p.m. Sept. 28, Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Free dance lessons followed by a freestyle dance session.
  • "¿Queer y que? Questions for Queer Latinidad," 7 p.m. Oct. 18, La Casa, 715 E. Seventh St. Discussion about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues related to the Latino community.

"La Casa aims to bring visibility to Latino culture and contributions year-round, but celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity to really be a focus in the public's eye," said organizer Lillian Casillas, director of La Casa, IU's Latino Culture Center. "With Esai's visit, we're able to highlight diversity within the Latino community; he's an actor, an activist and an environmentalist, and 'Gun Hill Road' deals with transitional sexuality. That's what we try to highlight with our programming. We're not all Mexican, we don't all speak Spanish, and we're from various races, faiths and socioeconomic backgrounds. But we can all connect with one another and learn from each other."

A full list of National Hispanic Heritage Month events is available on the La Casa website.