According to History.com, “Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities.” The celebration spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and focuses on how Latinx and Hispanic communities have “influenced and contributed to American society at large.”
The month was started as a commemorative week when it was first introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in 1968. Brown wanted to recognize the roles played by the Hispanic and Latinx communities throughout American history.
On Sept. 14, 1989, Pres. George H.W. Bush extended the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month from a week to a month.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives is hosting different events, such as movie nights.
Jenee Spencer, Director of Diversity Education and Development gave the importance of celebrating this month.
“This is the sector of our community that is constantly under scrutiny. Many individuals that identify as Hispanic or Latinx hail from rich and diverse culture, even within the Latinx community. By learning about social justice issues that affect this demographic, we can better support and advocate for their needs. Cultural events, such as the activities with Fiesta Birmingham, allow the larger community to be exposed to cultural norms and traditions that honor the ancestry and heritage of the Hispanic community” Spencer said.
Another organization that is celebrating this month is the Latino Student Organization (LSO).
“We plan on hosting virtual events like a kahoot trivia and a Netflix watch party,” President Mia Banuelos said when asked on what kind of activities that they would provide.
LSO is still working on the date of these events.
While Banuelos is excited about celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month, she said that she wished there were more classes and ways to increase awareness of Latinx culture on and off-campus.
Not only are Samford organizations honoring this month, but the city of Birmingham is having its annual event, Fiesta Birmingham, as well. However, due to COVID-19, the event will take place in a series of online events.
On Fiesta Birmingham’s website, President Teresa-Zuniga Odom gave more information about the online events.
“Live cooking & mixology demonstrations, seminars on health and wellness, a Latin film series and family arts and craft projects featuring Hispanic artists are just a few of the activities we have in store,” Odom said.
Those interested can also purchase a “Fiesta in a Box.” According to the website, “Fiesta In A Box” is 10×14 collectible box, designed by a local Latino artist and filled with festive goodies and important information and resources.”
According to Spencer, other organizations that also celebrate Hispanic culture include the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama and Adelante Alabama.
“These events are great because many of them are virtual and therefore, easy to access. Also, the community has an opportunity to absorb Latinx culture from genuine sources,” Spencer said.
Spencer also gave different ways that the Samford community can better support Hispanic and Latinx individuals.
“We can educate ourselves about issues that are endemic to Latinx communities and countries and we can honor the experiences shared with us by listening to podcasts and reading authors that shine a light on the many facets of the Hispanic experience,” Spencer said.
For more information about Fiesta Birmingham, their events, and the “Fiesta in a Box,” visit their website and be sure to follow the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives (@samforddiverse) and the Latino Student Organization (@samfordlso) on Instagram to stay up to date on all events.