AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- The City of Aurora is flying the Mexican flag at One Aurora Plaza in honor of Mexican Independence Day and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Independence Day marks the start of the 1810-21 struggle for freedom from Spain.
Alderwoman Juany Garza, who immigrated from Mexico to the U.S. when she was a teenager, spoke at the flag-raising ceremony.
"The Independence Day is very important for us," she said. "This is 211 years of independence."
The Hispanic or Latino community continues to grow in Aurora, making up 43.4% of the population as of 2019, according to Census data.
"Aurora has been ranked as one of the most diverse cities in the United States and that's in large part due to our Latino community, including our Mexican community in particular," said Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin.
But their representation on city council remains low. For 17 years Garza was the only member of the Latino community on city council.
"I try to teach in the schools how important it is to have more representation," she said.
That's why Emmanuel Llamas decided to run. He was elected in 2019. He said there are a variety of issues facing Hispanics in the city.One of them being
"One of them being immigration, another being healthcare, especially with the pandemic, another access to education to higher education and depending on where you are in the city, there are a lot of neighborhoods that are primarily Hispanic that experience a lot of gang violence," Llmas said.
During his remarks Mayor Irvin emphasized the importance of making sure diverse voices are at the table.
"We are serious about diversity and we are even more serious about inclusion and belonging," he said. "To our vibrant Mexican community of Aurora, I want you to know that you are part of Aurora's story."
The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is just beginning in Aurora. There are more than a dozen events planned for the month.