Sept. 15 marks the start of the 26th annual Hispanic Heritage Month. Originally Hispanic Heritage Week, it was extended by Ronald Reagan in 1988, and since then, it has covered a 30-day period: Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
The commencement of the national event is also the independence day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and the month also contains the independence days of Mexico, Chile and Belize. Additionally, Columbus Day also serves as Día de la Raza, literally “Day of the Race,” for Latin Americans.
Although Hispanic culture is rich and includes several different African, European, Asian and Indigenous influences, the common underlying factor is the close relation to Spanish—and by some definitions, general Iberian—culture.
In the United States, Hispanics comprise the largest and fastest growing minority group, so naturally Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide. These celebrations often include festivals, gatherings and educational activities.
Cleveland is not excluded from the festivities, and throughout the month there will be several events celebrating and honoring Latin culture.
The Ohio Hispanic Heritage Coalition kicks off the month early, with their third Annual Lorain Hispanic Heritage Parade & Mi Familia Picnic on Sept. 13 at noon.
Additionally, the Cleveland Public Library will be celebrating Cleveland’s Hispanic culture throughout the month with music, crafts, dance and more.
Hispanic artists are also enjoying the spotlight this month. The Beck Center for the Arts and Hispanic Cultural Center is presenting their Hispanic Heritage Exhibit from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5. Artists included in the show are of Hispanic background and have strong connections to Northeast Ohio.
There was an opportunity to meet with the artists on Sept. 11 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in a special reception. The Collaboration Corridor in the Beck Center Main Building will also be displaying work by young artists who participated in the Esperanza summer program, which was instructed by professionals from American Greetings.
Not shying away from embracing culture, Case Western Reserve University will also be partaking in Hispanic Heritage Month. The university is hosting an art show, which opens with an artists’ reception on Sept. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. It will be held at the Kelvin Smith Library.
The featured local artists are Puerto Rican, Cuban, Guatemalan and Mexican. The artists include Puerto Ricans Linda Ayala and Bruno Casiano; Cuban Augusto Bordelois; Guatemalan Teresa Martinez; Ecuadorian Rafael Valdivieso; and Dante Rodriguez, who will represent both Puerto Rico and Mexico.
The artists’ talents are diverse and intriguing. The show will include an array of paintings, puppetry and photography. It will also be the first campus Hispanic art exhibition in recent memory to present local artists, according to research assistant and Alianza Latina/Latin Alliance member Edna Fuentes-Casiano.
Fuentes-Casiano also remarked, “It is an excellent way to start the Hispanic Heritage Celebration by displaying the richness of our many Hispanic cultures for all to enjoy. It also serves as a way to reach out to the Hispanic community in Cleveland and to our CWRU community.”
Fuentes-Casiano is one of the organizers of the art show, along with CWRU Assistant Professor in Modern Languages and Literature Damaris Punales-Alpizar. The show’s sponsors are Alianza Latina/Latin Alliance, La Alianza and the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
Photo identification is needed to enter KSL, but the reception and art show are both free. The art will remain displayed throughout the month during normal library hours and will end on Oct. 22.