The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are paying tribute to generations of Hispanic Americans.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) the U.S. will recognize contributions made by Hispanic and Latino Americans and celebrate their heritage and culture.
As one of most highly populated regions for Hispanics, Southern California is among the most diverse in the country. New population figures released by the U.S. Census show that Latinos have passed whites as the largest ethnic group in California. The tally shows that as of July 1, 2014, about 14.99 million Latinos lived in California, edging out the 14.92 million whites.
As of 2010, about 2.5 million residents of Greater Los Angeles were of Mexican-American origin or heritage. There has been a shift of second and third generation Mexican-Americans out of Los Angeles into nearby suburbs, such as Ventura County, Orange County, San Diego and the Inland Empire regions.
Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants moved in the East and South sections of L.A. and sometimes, Asian immigrants moved into historic barrios to become mostly Asian-American areas. Starting in the late 1980s, Downey became a renowned Latino majority community in Southern California, and the majority of residents who moved in were middle or upper-middle class, and second and third generation Mexican-Americans.
This “melting pot” cultural environment presents an opportunity to learn and share what this cultural group has to offer. The Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy notes: “(Without) contributions from the Cuban rhythms in South Florida to the Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Peruvians, Bolivians, Columbians and other cultural influences in New York City, Chicago and Boston to the Mexican culture found in the great Southwest, Texas and California, America’s cultural history would not be the same (March 11, 2014).”
Actually, Hispanic culture is already so well entrenched into American society that many Americans take it for granted. Five states have Spanish names (Florida, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Montana) and four more (Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona) have Hispanicized native names. And it's no wonder: Until the mid-19th century, they were all part of New Spain, and then part of Mexico after independence, before the U.S. took them over.
Technically, Spanish language and culture became part of the national fabric of the United States when the U.S. expanded West of the Mississippi and South of the Carolinas. Over a period of 82 years, the U.S. penetrated deeply into the Hispanic sphere, annexing or occupying Florida (1821), Texas (1845), Northern Mexico (1848 and 1854), Puerto Rico (1898) and the Panama Canal zone (1903).
This Saturday, September 17, the City of Inglewood will host its Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Festival at Crozier Middle School, 120 W. Regent Street, from 11am-4pm. The community will celebrate and honor contributions of Hispanics from every country, and especially those in Inglewood. It will be a festive day of music, food, family fun and a popular classic car show. The event is free and open to everyone.