Hispanic Heritage Month
The contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans are recognized annually in the United States during National Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15. President Lyndon Johnson first declared Hispanic Heritage Week in September 1968, and in 1988, Congress authorized President George H.W. Bush to proclaim the days between September 15 and October 15 as a national month of celebration of the cultures and traditions of Hispanic Americans.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 52 million people of Hispanic origin living in the United States as of 2011, with an additional 3.7 million residing in Puerto Rico, only Mexico has a larger Hispanic population. To be of Hispanic origin does not require one to be from Spain, Mexico, or Latin America; many Hispanic people hail from European countries, India, and Africa as well. In 2010, it was estimated that more than 37 million U.S. residents spoke Spanish at home, constituting 12.8 percent of all persons age five and older.
Beginning with Ponce de Leon’s exploration of Florida in 1513, contributions by Hispanic and Latino residents of the United States continue to be numerous. In 2007, there were 2.3 million Hispanic-owned businesses in America, generating revenues of over $350 billion. More than one million Hispanics or Latinos are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. The first admiral of the United States Navy was David Glasgow Farragut, a Hispanic who played a vital role in the conclusion of the Civil War.
Luis Alvarez, a professor at the University of California at Berkley, won the Nobel Prize in 1968 for his work on subatomic particles, and MIT’s Mario Molina won the award in chemistry in 1995 for his research on chlorofluorocarbons and damage to the ozone layer. The first female Surgeon General of the United States was a Hispanic, Dr. Antonia Novello. Cesar Chavez, a Hispanic farm laborer, civil rights activist, and American labor leader, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Delores Huerta; this ground-breaking organization later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Artistic and musical accomplishments range from the works of Marisol, a contemporary sculptor with pieces on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to international pop sensation Jennifer Lopez, born in The Bronx, New York, to Puerto Rican parents in 1969. Other famous Hispanic contributors include actors Desi Arnaz, Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino), and Andy Garcia; singers Joan Baez, Ritchie Valens, and Christina Aguilera; and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Enjoy events around Missouri celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month:
- David FitzGerald, of the University of California at San Diego, will be giving a public lecture on American policy toward unauthorized immigration at an event co-sponsored by the Latin American, Caribbean and Hispanic Studies (LACHS) Program and the Department of Political Science at Missouri State University on September 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Robert W. Plaster Student Union, Room 313, 1110 E. Madison Street, Springfield. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Indira Palacios-Valladares at IndiraPalacios@MissouriState.edu or 417-836 – 6927.
- The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival starts on September 7, at 10:00 a.m. and runs daily through September 9, at Kiener Plaza, 600 Market Street, St. Louis. Enjoy Latin bands, food and drinks, crafts, a children’s pavilion with pony rides, and the Miss Hispanic Festival contest. Admission is free. For more information, call 314-837-6100.
- St. Louis University and Saint Francis Xavier College Church are hosting a Night of Music with Javier Mendoza, benefiting La Natividad in Santa Maria Chiqumula, Guatemala. The concert will be held September 15, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Louis University-Busch Student Center, St. Louis Ballroom, 20 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis. For more information call 314-977-7309 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- St. Louis Public Library Schlafly Branch, 225 North Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, features Monday Movie Madness: Hispanic Heritage Month, a free movie every Monday evening for a month from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., beginning September 17. For more information, call 314-367-4120.
- Samba Bom, a Brazilian music band, will perform at Blumenhof Winery in the Village of Dutzow, in Warren County, on September 22, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Picnics are welcome. Enjoy wine, friends, and music. The event is co-sponsored by the Hispanic Arts Council of St. Louis. Conact Blumenhof Winery, 13699 South Highway 94, Village of Dutzow, at 800-419-2245.
- Expo Americas will be held this year at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. The event runs from 11:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on September 16, and 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on September 17. Expo Americas will feature a children's area that includes Science City, a Quinceanera fashion plaza, cultural arts, a business and economic forum, a career and job fair, a health and wellness area, a custom car and auto show, and a Latino Music Festival. Union Station is located at 30 West Pershing Road in Kansas City. For more information, call 816-460-2020 or Jason Smith Mendez at 816-912-7677.
- Visions of Mexican Art will debut on September 16, at Union Station in Kansas City. This collection spans five movements of artistic production in Mexico over the past seventy years, and addresses the political and social plight of the country while celebrating its rich history. Contact Union Station, 30 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, at 816-460-2020.
Learn more about Hispanic heritage:
- Spend time with a good book from a Hispanic Heritage Month suggested reading list from websites such as Scholastic, All About Adolescent Literacy, and Just Read!, with a variety of books by grade level for children of all ages, as well as a selection of books for adult reading, including Pablo’s Tree and The Color of My Words for elementary- to middle-aged children, American Chica for high school students, and The Line of the Sun for adults.
- View articles, videos, and photographs celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America by visiting the National Hispanic Heritage Month website.
- Watch your local PBS television station throughout Hispanic Heritage Month for a lineup of programming that entertains, informs, and explores the culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans. The series Voces on PBS presents documentaries on the richness of Latino life each Friday from September 28 to October 19 at 9:00 p.m. Other shows include John Leguizamo’s Tales from a Ghetto Klown, Mariachi High, and Not in Our Town: Light in the Darkness. For more information and a program guide, visit www.pbs.org.