Cultures de Raza Unidas (CRU) is a Latino Student Organization dedicated to not only
celebrating diversity and heritage but acting as a “cohesive voice of the Latino community.“ On
October 16th, 2013- with some assistance of the Office of Cultural and Academic Transitions
(OCAT)- they provided a display of brown pride to the Michigan State University community
with a twist.
That twist came in the form of Los Angeles-based theatre group Will & Company,
who tour the nation with 65 minute live presentations, a “series of two person shows depicting
historical Americans who have made an impact on our society (http://
http://www.willandcompany.com/latino/) but wouldn’t get the recognition they otherwise deserve.
The series- which consists of several shows focused on several minority groups- is aptly named:
Portraits of Courage.
The pre show included a dancing competition to many different styles of Latin-based
music; it got the crowd involved and relaxed, but it wasn’t long until the main event proceeded to
captivate the audience.
Colin Cox, native of England and founder of the theatre group, travelled to Michigan
State with performers Nick Ortega and Jessica Meza. He gleefully stated the shows are
“designed to present people every American should know about” and provided information on
who would be brought to life on stage, including civil rights attorney Gustavo Garcia, the 1st
Mexican to argue before the Supreme Court who also helped end the exclusion of Hispanics
from jury service in Jackson County, Texas. Another was Andrea Perez, who first led to the
abolishment of the miscegenation laws in the United States when she sued for her right to marry
an African American, a case which eventually led to the Supreme Court striking down all such
laws. (http://www.willandcompany.com/latino/) Other historical figures brought to life included
Luisa Moreno, Roberto Clemente, and Sylvia Rivera.
I unfortunately could not stay for all of the show; however not one performance I
witnessed went without applause, only to end in a captivating silence as the performers moved
on to the next moment in history.
Brown Pride at Michigan State is nothing new. In fact, it is the 10th of its kind. Dominga
Martinez, Brown Pride founder, once stated the purpose is to provide opportunity for Chicano/
Latinos to be recognized (http://www.msu-cru.com/brown-pride). This opportunity is paramount,
considering the Chicano/Latino population has consistently represented less than 5% of
Michigan State’s total student populace (http://www.inclusion.msu.edu/Outreach/
Diversity_Report.pdf). Therefore the purpose of the annual and unified showing of Brown Pride
goes beyond simple appreciation; it’s about stressing the importance of grabbing the opportunity
provided by those before, collegiate and otherwise. Brown Pride is meant for all but to those who
wear it, it’s about the necessity of the courage to succeed. For those in attendance for 2013, this
was made more clear than ever.