I got email from NCO Chair Nate White yesterday alerting me to this essay posted on the TC Daily Planet last week: FREE SPEECH ZONE | Language Shootout in Northfield
Jesse James stormed Northfield last weekend, six guns blazing, as he tends to do each September. But this time, he and his gang didn’t speak a lick of Spanish. And that was a mistake.
Last year, the Defeat of Jesse James Days organizing committee included a Spanish language re-enactment of the James Gang’s 1876 raid on Northfield as a way of reaching out to the town’s burgeoning Spanish-speaking population. But while some applauded the effort and welcomed a more diverse audience, many were angered by the move…
This year, all eight re-enactments of the raid on Northfield were conducted in English. When a curious local asked at the information booth why there was no Spanish language version this year, he was told that the organizers found it “too controversial.”
- Sept. 10 letter to the editor from Daniel Groll posted to Nfld Patch: DJJD Bank Raid Re-enactment Should Have Spanish-Language Version
- Jan. 30 Nfld News: [Wayne] Eddy’s fourth turn at the helm
Financial challenges aren’t stopping Eddy from imagining a bigger, better DJJD. He’s already looking at the possible inclusion of a soap box derby and is considering staging a raid re-enactment in Spanish in May during local Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Last year, the committee was criticized for hosting a raid re-enactment in Spanish without advance notice, a move which frustrated some DJJD visitors. While he’s anxious to share Northfield’s history with Spanish speakers, he says it’s impractical during a public celebration where out-of-towners might not expect the switch.
Links to the issue from last year:
- The Sept. 2010 DJJD Facebook Wall discussion thread (65 comments) "Tonight’s raid re-enactment at 7pm will be in Spanish, narrated [by] Father Dempsey"
- Sept. 21, 2010 Nfld News editorial: Maintain, promote raid translation
Visitors who showed up to one Saturday re-enactment of the 1876 failed robbery attempt at First National Bank first heard emcee Dan Freeman narrate the events in English, followed by the Rev. Father Denny Dempsey translating into Spanish…
This community has long prided itself on its inclusivity. The decision to provide narration is an acknowledgment of the many Latinos in our community who may not have ever heard the story of the raid. They should be able to share in our pride.
That said, next year the committee members need to more widely promote, well in advance and in both English and Spanish, that they will provide the narration. That way, more Latinos will be alerted to attend and those who don’t want to listen to the translation can plan to attend at a different time.