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Latino Heritage Month Opens With Motions Both Inside and Outside City Hall

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Friday, September 04, 2009, at 05:31PM
IMGP9831 Ed Fuentes

DANCE FLOOR: Pacifico Dance Company at the opening ceremonies for 2009's Latino Heritage Month, held at City Hall.

The City of Los Angeles launched 2009's Latino Heritage Month by presenting awards to educator Jamie Escalante, musician Shelia Escovedo and actor Jimmy Smits. Once out of an overflowing council chambers, all three honorees moved to the South Lawn and gave the audience a sample of their personalities.

Jaime Escalante, the former Garfield High School math teacher who was subject of the film "Stand And Deliver," spoke carefully and offered the lesson he's been passing down to younger generations: persevere and look to the future. He is the 2009 recipient of the Spirit of Los Angeles Award.

Shelia Escovedo, better known as Shelia E, thanked the crowd, and then played a set that including pulling in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to work the congas for a song. Escovedo received the 2009 Dream of Los Angeles Award.

Jimmy Smits looked presidential while thanking the crowd. Smits played Matthew Santos on the political drama "West Wing," a character based on then Senator Barack Obama's "refusal to be defined by his race and his aspirations to bridge the partisan divide," as West Wing writer Eli Attie once told the New York Times. Smits is the recipient of the 2009 Hope of Los Angeles Award.

Earlier, inside chambers, there was levity as the Oye Brazil Samba Show danced before the honorees were introduced, prompting council member Bill Rosendahl to jump up show his moves. Moments later, there was a motion on the floor to forbid Rosendahl from ever making such further motions on the floor again. It was seconded.

Other Angelenos are still invited to join in the month that celebrates Latino Heritage through art and culture as they wish.


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