Wilson County sisters want school district to recognize Hispanic Heritage Month

WILSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Herrera sisters are the daughters of Mexican immigrants who raised them to be proud of their heritage. They say the very school district that taught them as students doesn't quite recognize that legacy and they want it to.

"I felt like I had to assimilate and erase so much of my uniqueness in order to fit in and have a smooth sailing high school experience," said Wilson resident Flor Herrera-Picasso.

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She called her time as a student in Wilson County schools confusing, as she had to develop survival skills of not speaking Spanish or wearing clothes that represented her heritage. She has been uncomfortable celebrating who she is until now.

"Even now I'm still discovering who I am and what my identity means to me. I think the youth of today shouldn't have to wait until they are 30 years old to learn about their heritage and to celebrate that," she said.

Data from the Census shows in 2010, Latinos made up 9.5 percent of Wilson County. Ten years later in 2020, Latinos make up 11.5 percent of the population -- which is an increase of 1300 people.

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She and her sister Elizabeth sent a letter to Wilson County school district asking it to affirm and demonstrate its commitment to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. They even requested more staffers are hired to reflect the Latino community.

Congressman G. K. Butterflied sent a letter of support.

The children of immigrants have encountered micro aggressions their entire childhood because others didn't understand their culture.
"I was embarrassed because we were such a big family. Normally there are two kids per family. Every year I'd have teachers or students asking, 'oh, is your mom pregnant again? Oh, you're having another sibling,'" said Elizabeth Picasso.

Thirteen days into Hispanic Heritage Month, the school district released the following statement:

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to recognize the Hispanic history and culture, as well as the incredible achievements and contributions of Hispanics not only across the nation, but also in our schools. Teachers across the district are planning activities to recognize and celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. We will be sharing many of these activities on our Wilson County Schools social media channels.

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While the Herrera sisters say they haven't heard anything from the school district, they're hopeful. They have launched a nonprofit to improve access to college for Latinx youth.

"It's way to foment positive ethnic identity, to create self-esteem in Latinx youth and celebrate our identity," said Herrera.
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