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The second annual Capitol Hispanic Day Tuesday featured dances and foods of several Latin American countries to expose legislators and Capitol visitors to Oklahoma’s majority-minority culture.

And four consulate officials for Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Guatemala, origin countries of Oklahoma’s Hispanic culture, attended and spoke to those gathered for the event.

Pride

Joyce Thomas from Panama was part of a troupe that performed Panamanian dances in traditional dress from that country.

Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Joyce Thomas
Joyce Thomas performs a traditional Panama dance in traditional dress in front of a large crowd in the rotunda of the Okla Capitol. BRETTDICKERSON/OKCFreePress

Free Press talked with her afterward.

“It means a lot to me because this is my heritage,” said Thomas. “And I love to show my heritage to all the people here in the United States.”

She said that she came to this country because she met and married an American soldier who was stationed in Panama. They now have three daughters who were born in the U.S.

“It’s really special to me that my whole family knows and respects the culture of my country,” she said. “My husband is very supportive.”

Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Ruth Sanchez
Ruth Sanchez watches the various dances of Latin America. BRETTDICKERSON/OKCFreePress

Ruth Sanchez came to the U.S. when she was fourteen.

She had the privilege of seeing her grandmother sworn in as a U.S. citizen April 25 after passing a difficult citizenship test. It came on the heels of her near death from illness earlier in the year.

“When she did it and passed she really accomplished something,” said Sanchez. “We were excited.”

Imelda Thompson closed the day’s entertainment with a bold rendition of “¡Viva México!, ¡Viva América!” as the remaining crowd sang along more than at any other time.

Legislators present

Free Press talked to two Oklahoma representatives and one Oklahoma senator from the metro who were circulating in the crowd.

Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Dancers
Dance was a large part of the day’s entertainment. BRETTDICKERSON/OKCFreePress

Southside Senator Michael Brooks-Jimenez spent a considerable amount of time talking with different people who came into the event at the Capitol.

“It’s great that the biggest minority culture in Oklahoma City is represented here,” said the senator. “I believe students from Hispanic culture make up 51 percent of Oklahoma City Public Schools’ student population.”

“This is a great presence here at the Capitol and a good way to let them know this is their house, too. It’s the people’s house.”

Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Dancers close their portion of Hispanic Day events
Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Dancers close their portion of Hispanic Day events BRETTDICKERSON/OKCFreePress

Southside Representative Mickey Dollens eagerly participated in the events.

“Many of my constituents in HD 93 are Hispanic,” said Dollens. “We have such a vibrant, diverse community. And we are so much better for it.”

He said the Capitol Hispanic Day was “an opportunity to show our appreciation for diversity and for the Hispanic Community.”

Northside Representative Cyndi Munson talked with us about the significance of the event, saying it was her “favorite day at the Capitol.”

“It shows the diversity of our state. It shows how integrated the Hispanic Community is in all of our communities. It’s also a great time to share their cultural celebrations,” said Munson.

Capitol Hispanic Day 2018 Consuls
Consuls (L-R) Jose Rodrigues, Guatamala; Rodolfo Quilantán-Arenas, Mexico; Amalia M. Miranda, M.D., Spain; Enrique Villar-Gambetta, Peru. BRETTDICKERSON/OKCFreePress

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