October: Honoring a rainbow of rights, heritage and history

As October opens, so does commemoration of a host of notable observances.

This is LGBT History Month, German-American Heritage Month, Islamic Heritage Month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Italian-American Heritage Month and, the closing weeks of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Rainbow-flagIt’s apropos that attention is drawn to these areas in October, because in Philadelphia, it’s also Human Relations Month.

While PCHR focuses on bringing greater harmony and understanding among people of diverse backgrounds in this city every day, October gives us added time to reflect on what this melting pot — or tossed salad, depending on your view — has brought to our city.

For certain, Philly would not be Philly without all the aforementioned, along with many others. We are a city built on the idea of tolerance and freedom, brimming with communities featuring a rainbow of ethnic, religious, cultural residents and visitors.

Sounds like as good a time as any to seek and celebrate these shared intersections, to make a commitment to learn from and about each other for these 31 days. Guaranteed your life will be richer for the effort!

Celebrating Latino heritage and community: La Feria del Barrio 2015

At the 2015 Feria del Barrio yesterday, the colors were bright, activities numerous and streets full of joy as people came from across the city and region for the annual community outing, sponsored by Taller Puertorriqueño.

Fiesta! The 2015 Feria del Barrio. Photo courtesy of Taller Puertorriqueño.

Fiesta! The 2015 Feria del Barrio. Photo courtesy of Taller Puertorriqueño.

As in years past, the vivid daylong array of artisans, dancers, musicians and other performers made this cultural showcase a smash for attendees of every age. Beyond entertainment, valuable workshops and resource exchanges also were in place.

North 5th Street saw scores of people gathered for the annual Feria del Barrio. Photo courtesy of Taller Puertorriqueño.

North 5th Street saw scores of people gathered for the annual Feria del Barrio. Photo courtesy of Taller Puertorriqueño.

Sara Roblado, an area block captain, takes a moment to collect information from PCHR's Nancy Rivera at the annual Feria del Barrio.

Sara Roblado, an area block captain, takes a moment to collect information from PCHR’s Nancy Rivera at the annual Feria del Barrio.

And in the mix of it all was PCHR, represented by veteran Nancy Rivera, a supervisor in the compliance division and alum of the community relations division. From neighbor disputes to Ban the Box details, she answered scores of questions for the dozens who visited the table. She even caught up with an extended member of the PCHR family, former employee Sonia Collazo.

A PCHR family reunion! Nancy Rivera connects with former PCHR employee Sonia Collazo at the Feria del Barrio.

A PCHR family reunion! Nancy Rivera connects with former PCHR employee Sonia Collazo at the Feria del Barrio.

It was a great September day for a street festival, and a wonderful way to usher in Hispanic Heritage Month 2015!

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: The Puerto Rican edition

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria QuiñonesSánchez led a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall on Monday as veterans and JROTC high school cadets alike gathered with hundreds of proud Puerto Ricans and supporters from the ranks of the city’s public safety offices and other City Council members to celebrate this segment of Hispanic Heritage Month.

After an invocation offered by the Rev. Gerardo Colon Jr. of Casa Apostolica Internacional and between public pronouncements and strains of both the Star-Spangled Banner and La Borinqueña, the Puerto Rican national anthem, the flag was hoisted into a gentle September breeze. After the cheers came an impromptu fiesta, where the councilwoman arranged for lunch of Puerto Rican delicacies on the plaza.

City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau proudly celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Philadelphia.

City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and PCHR Executive Director Rue Landau proudly celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Philadelphia.

City Councilman William Greenlee (l.) proudly shows off his guayabera, a shirt traditionally warn in the Caribbean -- to the cheers of the crowd and City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, MOIMA Deputy Director Fernando Treviño-Martinez, Congreso's Joanna Otero-Cruz and City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee (l.) proudly shows off his guayabera, a shirt traditionally warn in the Caribbean — to the cheers of the crowd and (l.-r). Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, MOIMA Deputy Director Fernando Treviño-Martinez, Congreso’s Joanna Otero-Cruz and City Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.

Color guard from the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson open the 2014 raising of the Puerto Rican flag at City Hall.

Color guard from the Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson open the 2014 raising of the Puerto Rican flag at City Hall.