EAST CHICAGO - A local group devoted to promoting the culture of Mexico donated a bust to the East Chicago Public Library that depicts the Catholic priest who is credited with igniting Mexico's drive for independence from Spain.
The Sociedad Cultural Civica y Reforma arranged for a bust of Rev. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla to be shipped from Mexico to East Chicago, where they gave the item to the public library. It's scheduled to be put on permanent display at the main branch's Spanish-language materials collection.
The bust depicts the face and head of Father Hidalgo, who on Sept. 16, 1810, gave "el Grito de Delores," a demand for liberty and independence for Mexico. His cry is considered the beginning of Mexico's independence, although Spain did not recognize the claim until 1826.
Presentation of the bust was part of the library district's annual Mexico Independence Day celebration on Sept. 16, which included a recreation of Hidalgo's independence chant by artist Dayanara Villareal.
She used a microphone to lead the crowd in repeated chants of "¡Viva!," although library Director Manuel Montalvo quipped, "I don't think she needed a microphone."
Sociedad Director Debra Bolaños said the bust was made by the Universidad Cientifica Latino Americano de Hidalgo in Mexico, which then donated it to the group free of charge.
Bolanos said a plaque explaining exactly who Father Hidalgo (who was executed in 1811 for his independence rhetoric) is will be added within the next two weeks. "Then, everybody will know who this hero is," she said.
Montalvo said he thinks the bust is a significant gift to the library's Spanish collection, which currently consists of a few hundred books and other printed materials in the Spanish language.
"I promise we will take very good care of" the bust, he said.