The mission of the Mississippi Hispanic Association is to encourage, support and promote cultural, educational and community service activities in order to facilitate the integration of Hispanics into the state’s mainstream. Additionally, MHA also aims to awaken concern and interest for the history, traditions and current issues regarding the Hispanic community in Mississippi.
Early in 1993, Esperanza Velásquez and Elsa Baughman began discussions concerning the formation of a club or organization for the purpose of uniting all Hispanics residing in Mississippi. The first meeting, named the “Encuentro,” took place at Fernando’s Restaurant on May 23, 1993 and approximately 60 people attended and responded to a questionnaire whose results indicated a unanimous consensus that the creation of such an organization was a necessity. It was not until October of 1995 that serious discussions pertaining to the structure of such an association began—particularly the formation of a Board of Directors as well as the objective detailed below. On January 2, 1996, Esperanza Velásquez met with lawyer Merida Coxwell in order to finalize the by-laws by which the Mississippi Hispanic Association (MHA) was to abide by.
On January 31, 1996, Mr. Coxwell’s secretary read the minutes of incorporation to the MHA Board of Directors–all of whom agreed to contribute a sum of $30 each to cover the incorporation fee. Mr. Coxwell presented the petition before the Secretary of State’s office in order to ensure that the Association be incorporated in accordance with the laws of the State of Mississippi. The petition was registered under Section 79-11-137, Code 1972. On February 3, 1996, the Association solicited a request for tax exemption, and five months later, the request was granted temporary status under Section 509(a)(2) of the Internal Revenue Service. This temporary status lasted from January 3, 1996 to December 31, 2000. The association has had permanent status as a non-profit organization since April 4, 2001.
MHA’s Founding Board of Directors:
- President: Esperanza Velásquez
- Vice-president: Dr. Evelin Cuadra
- Executive Secretary: Elsa Baughman
- Treasurer: Otilia Sebuktekin
- Vocal: James Martin
- To obtain the administrative rights of the “Festival Latino” and to continue its annual organization in order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed nationally from September 15 to October 15. The first “Festival Latino” (9/17/1995) was organized in a conjunctive effort between the Catholic Diocese of Jackson and the Methodist Church of Mississippi, along with representatives from 17 Latin American countries.
- To create the “Gaceta Hispana”, an informative publication in Spanish for the Hispanic community of Mississippi.
- To educate the general public about the presence of the Hispanic community in Mississippi.
- To promote, sponsor, and offer activities and social service programs for the Hispanic community.
- To offer and/or sponsor social activities which help Hispanics integrate into American society.
- To promote education for Hispanics by defending and interceding on their behalf before the state and federal government.
- To create future programs and activities of a social, educational, and cultural nature which require the guidance and supervision of a non-profit organization.
Junta de Directores
The purpose of the Board of Directors is to guide and uphold the mission of the Mississippi Hispanic Association (MHA) and to strengthen the capacity of the individuals and volunteers to serve the Hispanic community through the MHA. Board members server a three (3) year rotating term and meet five (5) times per year. The annual meeting is held on the last Saturday in May.