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DC Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

By: Samantha Howland
*Legal Assistant at BOILA PC

From September 15, 2013 to October 15, 2013, the District of Colombia, along with the rest of the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. This month is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions and heritages of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States. It is a time to reflect upon and enjoy diverse cultural practices, foods, languages, customs, art, literature, music etc. that originated in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean and that contribute to the richness and diversity of the United States.

Hispanic Heritage Month was first observed in 1968 as a week long celebration. In 1988 the observation period was expanded from one week to 30 days under President Reagan. The period of observation was set mid-September to mid-October to incorporate a variety of Latin America countries Independence Days. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all celebrate their Independence Days on September 15, Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16 and Chile’s Independence Day is September 18. Columbus Day or Dia de la Raza falls within this time period as well.

The District of Colombia’s city government’s Office on Latino Affairs states, “Hispanic Heritage Month represents a time when our office recognizes the valuable contributions of Latino’s to our country’s history, while advancing new trends in the District of Columbia.” D.C. planned a jam packed schedule for Hispanic Heritage Month with a variety of events such as a Panamanian Folkloric Dance Group performance by the GRUFOLPAWA (October 4), the 8th Annual Hispanic LGBTQ Heritage Celebration (September 27) and a Hispanic Heritage Month Award Ceremony (October 16). For a complete listing of activities and events sponsored by the DC government Office on Latino Affairs please click the following link http://ola.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ola/page_content/attachments/Hispanic_Heritage_Month_Calendar.pdf

Prior to the government shutdown the Smithsonians were also participating in Hispanic Heritage Month by having different events at various museums. On September 14 at the Museum of the American Indian there was a celebration to start Hispanic Heritage Month with the exhibition of “Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed” A variety of lectures, performances and family activities were held or scheduled to take place that celebrated Hispanic heritage. For example, on September 15 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum there was a demonstration by the Eileen Torres Dancers, salsa music and a salsa scavenger hunt for children. The events at the Smithsonians often featured Hispanic community, business and government leaders and were bilingual to celebrate successes in the Hispanic community and the Spanish language.

In addition, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute held its 36th Annual Gala Awards on October 2 and hosted public policy conferences on September 30 and October 1. These conferences addressed public policy issues impacting Latino communities and the entire nation.

Hispanic Heritage Month is an enriching time for Latinos in the US to celebrate their culture and heritage and to share this with non-Latinos. It is an opportunity for all people to learn and share and grow as a community.

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