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“Fighting for justice is a public way of making love,” College junior Jonathan Paz, president of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc., Delta Chapter, said.

So translates the spirit of La Unidad Latina as it co-hosts an art auction in collaboration with La Casa Latina for the benefit of Juntos — a local association that helps develop impoverished neighborhoods and protect minorities’ rights in Philadelphia. The auction is taking place today at 5 p.m. in Houston Hall, Class of ‘49, as part of La Unidad Latina’s Semana de Oro.

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The idea of the auction first sparked when Paz reached out to La Casa Latina Director Johnny Irizarry — also a Philadelphia artist involved with Juntos — when Paz was looking to get out of the Penn bubble.

Called “Nuestras Voces,” the auction will contain up to 15 pieces from artists within the Penn community, Philadelphia and the whole country — including acclaimed artists such as Zoraida Martinez , named among the top 10 Latino artists by The Huffington Post .

“The Philadelphia community is going to meet Penn,” Paz said. The pieces are mainly contemporary paintings, and most are Latino-related, but not exclusively — as the artists were asked to put forth “whatever you want to express.”

Juntos, the organization to which the funds will be donated, is pushing the DREAM Act, which would allocate funds to undocumented high-school graduates to help pay for in-state tuition in Pennsylvania state colleges. Paz said La Unidad Latina chose this association to “help them expand their efforts because Juntos is becoming substantially more influential.”

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When asked why an art auction was considered the most effective medium to raise funds, Paz responded that graphics are not utilized enough as a vehicle for expression in most organized fundraisers. La Unidad Latina wanted to “show how art is a tool for social change,” he added.

The auction will not only feature pieces of art for sale, but also performances by student groups including The Excelano Project , College junior and Native American poet Talon Ducheneaux and a presentation by Juntos’ youth leaders, Fuerza , who will discuss their own experience within the organization.

Three bodies came together to help bring forth the “Nuestras Voces” art auction — La Casa Latina, La Unidad Latina and Juntos. Though this will be their first event of its kind, they are pursuing the idea of hosting it annually. This auction offers the opportunity not only to appreciate art and performances but also to participate in social justice by “empowering the voices that aren’t always heard,” Paz said.

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