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History series to honor Aurora’s Hispanic pioneers

Aurordance group Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl will perform AurorHistorical Society program Hispanic community's contributions Aurora's heritage.

Aurora dance group Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl will perform at Aurora Historical Society program on the Hispanic community's contributions to Aurora's heritage.

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Updated: October 5, 2012 6:03AM

Aurora’s Hispanic communities — including Mexicans, Tejanos and Puerto Ricans — step into the spotlight at the Aurora Historical Society on Friday with an exhibit honoring early Latino pioneers and their contributions to the city.

Among those being honored is labor organizer Emilio Berrios, who arrived in Chicago in June 1951 via cargo plane from Puerto Rico and then a bus from New York City, with just $3 in his pocket.

He chose to spend 50 cents on taxi fare from Chicago to Aurora; but with that investment, he stirred the winds of change in Aurora and throughout the country, the Aurora Historical Society relates.

Berrios endured workplace discrimination and abuse, then became a labor organizer and a champion of Latino rights in the workplace, working in Aurora with the Human Relations Commission and community giants such as Marie Wilkinson.

Now 92, Berrios will be honored with other pioneers on Friday at a reception at the Aurora Historical Society.

The event opens a monthlong exhibit of Hispanic contributions to the history and culture of Aurora. It is sponsored by the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council, the Northern Illinois Tejano Cultural Society and the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board.

Part of the Historical Society’s tribute to the city’s 175th birthday, the series of ethnic salutes — titled Flavors of Aurora: Stirred, Not Shaken — already has honored the Luxembourger, Romanian and Greek communities; German and recent world refugees and immigrants are on the calendar for the remainder of the year.

Friday’s free reception will feature authentic foods and beverages at a cash bar, as well as live music and dancing by members of the Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl.

The exhibit will be on display through Sept. 29.

The museum is open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Parking in the city garage across the street is free with validation.

More information is available at, by calling 630-906-0650, or on Facebook.

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