By Maria Marroquin Monroy
Grand Park’s 7th annual Day of the Dead celebration held its first Selena for Sanctuary free concert, featuring an all-female line-up along with their traditional altars all around the park.
The performances by Los Angeles local bands and singers, such as Empress Of, San Cha, Ceci Bastida, Maya Murillo, August Eve and Loyal Lobo, made for a night filled with dance and good fun.
Julia Diamond, interim director of Grand Park, presented the founders of Solidarity for Sanctuary Diana Diaz and Doriz Munoz. Solidarity for Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that helps immigrant families.
“Our mission here at Grand Park is to honor, reflect and celebrate LA. I honestly can’t think of a better program to do that tonight,” Diamond said.
Diaz said it was beautiful to see the community come together to connect with each other.
“This started March of 2017, when our current administration threatened the Sanctuary title of our city and here we are in the heart of our city taking a stand and making a mental note to the universe and to everyone who is watching that we are standing in solidarity to fight for our sanctuary, which is our lindo Los Angeles,” Diaz said.
Solidarity for Sanctuary was presented with a commendum for their work in the community by Hilda Solis, supervisor of the first district of Los Angeles County.
“I just want people to know and recognize their power and to know that they can create change within their own community,” Diaz said.
“We are very proud because it’s great to see your friends thriving in making a difference in the community,” volunteer of Solidarity for Sanctuary Jeannette Diaz said.
One of the biggest performances of the night was an indigenous dance by the students of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America.
The performance involved beating of drums and movement in unison of the performers.
The interpretative dance was a protest against the belief that global warming does not exist.
“The dance and Dia de los Muertos in general is about continuation and renewal in our ancestral practices,” Art and Design professor Jose Luis Gutierrez said.
He said in addition to protesting climate change the dance is also an interpretation against domestic violence, especially against women, and trying to maintain the sustainability and being able to survive on earth.
“We’re using this practice as a way of remembering people who have taken actions like being in marches and protests, like what we are trying to do here and fostering indigenous education,” Gutierrez said.
Selenamos band along with Maya Murillo, more known as part of the popular internet sensation Mitu, sang a few tribute songs to Selena Quintanilla.
Murillo’s interpretation of “I Could Fall in Love” moved people into swaying and singing along to the famous Selena lyrics.
Maria Eugenia Pinzon and her family traveled from the San Fernando Valley to enjoy the concert together.
“We heard about the event because my daughter follows Maya on Instagram,” Pinzon’s daughter, Paloma Goyta said.
“We always want to see everything about our traditions. You know sometimes it’s not possible to do it at home, but you try your best not to lose your roots in this country,” Pinzon said.
“It’s important to have events like these because everyone is dancing. It’s great because kids, middle-aged people and seniors are dancing together and no one is judging,” she said.
She said she’s been to events where she feels like, because of her age, people look at her a certain way, but not at this event.
Other attendees like Elizabeth Cuencas, who has attended the event for the past four years, said she was excited to hear Yesika Salgado’s poetry first-hand because she’s been a fan of her work for a while.
Salgado is an LA based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city and her fat brown body.
“This year the event not only showcased Day of the Dead altars, but singers and members of immigrant aid institutions. It definitely felt like the event was successful in featuring different aspects of the Mexican culture,” Cuencas said.
A group of friends who met at a Latino Festival called Nali a few months ago attended the event because they said it makes them feel closer to their Latin heritage and culture.
“It’s great because it brings exposure to our culture and the cool thing is that it isn’t just Mexicans or Latinos in attendance, but also Asian and white people,” Alexander Gonzales said.
“It also helps you to find allies, the people supporting our community,” Caroline Salinas said.