Oakland’s Mam community celebrates their first cultural festival
on September 25, 2018
Last week, Oakland’s Mam community held its first local festival at the Cesar Chavez Library in Oakland. With more than 10,000 Mam residents in the Bay Area, organizers said they felt a need to express their culture’s uniqueness.
The Mam are Maya indigenous group who originated in Guatemala. The Mam language is well-known in Guatemala, as it is one of the most widely spoken of the 21 Maya languages currently spoken there. The festival took place on September 15, which is also Guatemala’s day of independence from Spain.
The creator of the festival, Henry Sales, said he had high hopes of working to transform perception of the Mam culture through showcasing Mam clothes, music and performance. Although the festival was a celebration, Sales said his community faces a rough time for many reasons, including hardships related to immigration and because there aren’t very many Mam translators to help with legal documents or any forms they may need to fill out. Through the festival, Sales said he wants to create an understanding of the prejudices faced by members of the Mam and the larger Latinx community in the United States.
Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.
Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to: firstname.lastname@example.org.