F. Kenneth Taylor
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15th to October 15th . Much like Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month was created to acknowledge and honor the contributions Hispanics have made in the United States. As of 2010, according to a PEW study, the Hispanic population in the U.S. had grown to approximately 50 million. During this month; Hispanic history, culture, and traditions are also recognized.
‘Hispanic(s)’ gives reference to natives and descendants of any of the 22 Spanish speaking countries including; Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and many others. Alongside their native language of ‘Spanish’, which one-fifth of the world now speaks. Hispanic influence can be seen most evident in United States from city and state names to politics. Nevada, Colorado, San Diego, Florida, San Antonio, are just a few U.S cities and states with Hispanic titles.
Prominent Hispanics in American politics include; Jorge Ramos, a Mexican-American Journalist and News Anchor who has been hailed as “The Walter Cronkite of Latin America.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 by former President, Barrack Obama. Senators Ted Cruz and Marc Rubio, both emigrated from Cuba and became most known as Republican Presidential Candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election. Eva Longoria, who many know as an actress, has a Masters in Chicano Studies, and founded The Eva Longoria Foundation, which aids in STEM funding, and focuses on Latino Entrepreneurship. Finally, Antonia C. Novello, is not only the first female Surgeon General, but also the first Hispanic to hold the position.
For slightly over 2 decades, St. Louis has presented a Hispanic Heritage Festival for its Hispanic population and city residents. In a YouTube video, Festival Board Member, Elisa Bender, tells us how the event grew from a single-day function in Chesterfield, with a $500 budget to a major, 3-day event in Downtown St. Louis.
This year, the festival was held in St. Louis’ Historic Soulard District, at Soulard Park. During the weekend, the festival highlights Hispanic/Latina music with live bands, vocalists, and dancers from Panama, Mexico, Venezuela, and Bolivia. The dancers and dances are most recognized for their vibrant and elegantly sewn dresses, colors, amazing choreography, and story-telling routines. The festival’s food vendors are also from various countries as well like; Argentina, Columbia, and Peru, just to name a few. Other booths and vendors display crafts such as the Children’s Pavilion, which allows kids a more interactive, hands-on learning experience.
Farm animals which included; a camel, goats, pigs, and chickens, were on-site at the festival for kids and festival-goers to see. Jump-houses, kiddie-train rides, rock climbing, and mechanical bull rides for all ages, were also available. There’s plenty to see and do at The St. Louis Hispanic Heritage Festival.