Stickers of various national flags covered a red heart in the Discovery Green Conservatory, and the I Am An Immigrant campaign set up large block letters spelling out I love Htown as part of this year’s Immigrant Heritage Month celebrations. The organization hosts Immigrant Heritage Month events all over the country in June, and while its interactive art installation was temporary—lasting only on this past Saturday and ending with that heart covered in flag stickers to represent Houston’s immigrant heritage; as of 2013, our diverse city was home to 1.4 million foreign-born residents —messages from the event are lasting.
“I am so proud to represent such a diverse and wonderful community,” State Rep. Gene Wu told the crowd. “I understand how much immigrants have contributed to this country, to this state, to this very city. Houston would not be nearly as half as beautiful as it is without its vibrant immigrant community, and I am proud to say that I am an immigrant.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and City Council Member Robert Gallegos also made an appearance at the event, showing their support for immigrants.
DACA recipients Jesus Contreras and Cesar Espinosa, as well as founder of the messaging app Tribl Ikechi Nwabuisi, also spoke at the event.
“I would like to bring to light and remind a lot of people that we have immigrant fathers that are being held at detention centers,” Contreras said. “They’re going to spend Father’s Day away from their families, some of them even in federal prison cells. It is a disgusting thing, it is terrible. But with that being said, let’s celebrate those immigrant fathers that brought us here and have raised us.”
Kemal Sariibrahimgolu, an immigrant from Turkey, put a Turkish flag sticker on the heart and signed it with his name. He said he thought it was really amazing that there was an event and a month to celebrate immigrants like him.
Axel Majano, while not an immigrant himself, put up flags of Mexico and El Salvador, representing where his parents came from.
“I was just walking from work, waiting for my ride, and saw everyone over here. This piece looks really nice,” Majano said. “It is really good to show everyone that Houston’s a melting pot and everyone is from everywhere. I don’t know some of these flags, but I would like to know them because everyone is from different places and everyone has their own special background.”
You can know them too. According to the event organizer, Zaira Garcia, 8th Wonder Brewery is interested in the art piece and is planning to install it there.