News Column

Hispanic Heritage

Sept. 19, 2011

Rebecca Villaneda, Staff Writer

Organizations across the country are planning events and award ceremonies to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Established in 1968, it began as a weeklong celebration under President Johnson, but was expanded in 1988 to cover the 30-day period that people celebrate today.

This year marks 24 years of honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month, which observes and honors the traditions of American citizens whose roots are in Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The celebration was originally created to include both Sept. 15 and Sept. 16, according to the Law Library of Congress. The first proclamation by Johnson read: "Wishing to pay special tribute to the Hispanic tradition, and having in mind the fact that our five Central American neighbors celebrate their Independence Day on the fifteenth of September and the Republic of Mexico on the sixteenth, the Congress by House Joint Resolution 1299, has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week."

Hundreds of organizations are hosting events nationwide. HispanicBusiness magazine highlights some of the events.

Celebrating Hispanics
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), a nonprofit leadership organization established by the White House in 1987, will hold its 25th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards (HHAs) on Sept. 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The awards ceremony honors Hispanic leaders, celebrates cultural traditions and addresses achievements. The HHFs honor Hispanics in categories such as art, science, mathematics, education, business, leadership and sports.

HHF was still working on compiling honorees at press time.

Junta Hispana, based in Miami, is in its 10th year and will hold its event a bit later than other organizations—Oct. 23—at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo at Tamiami Park. Junta Hispana is a multicultural organization dedicated to increasing awareness of Hispanic heritage, traditions and customs. The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Junta Hispana offers something for everyone, regardless of age or country of origin," said Leonardo Sanchez, Junta Hispana's director of entertainment.

"Of all the varied cultures and traditions that are woven into the fabric of American life, Hispanic Americans have some of the most distinctive, vigorous, and sustained culture and traditions," said Gabriella Vaque, Junta Hispana's cultural director.

A Taste of Tradition
The Mexican Heritage Corp. (MHC) will host an elaborate array of events that celebrate Mexico's culture and multicultural arts from Sept. 18 through Sept. 29 in San Jose, Calif. MHC, a nonprofit, serves the Silicon Valley and Northern California and develops, produces and presents cultural events, concerts, visual arts exhibitions, theater and arts education programs regionally.

Its two-week VivaFest kicks off with Kids Mariachi Day on Sept. 18.

A community conversation will be held on Sept. 22 after the presentation of a short fi lm, "At the End of the Day," by San Francisco filmmaker Dionisio Ceballos.

A Mariachi Mass will wind down events on Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph. But the final event is a comedy fi lm, "LOL! Latina on the Loose," following the life of Mina Olivera.

Said Marcela Davison Aviles, MHC CEO: "Our celebrations of Latino cultural contributions to the fabric of American society are the antidote to the current xenophobia which too oft en characterizes our national colloquy."

Source: (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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