Hispanic Heritage Month comes to Port

National Hispanic Heritage Month has been honored in the United States since 1968.  This celebration of Hispanic culture started as a single week during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, and eventually became a month-long event under President Ronald Reagan.  The month recognizes all of the history and culture of Americans who have ancestry from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  The celebration starts every year on Sept. 15 and continues until Oct. 15.  The day the month begins is significant, as the 15th marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Additionally, Mexico and Chile’s independence days follow on the 16th and 18th of Sept.  This year in Port Washington, there were a variety of events hosted to honor Hispanic Heritage. 

For one, the Parent Resource Center, Port Washington Public Library, and Landmark on Main Street sponsored a speaker panel.  The speakers included New York Secretary of State Richard Rodriguez, Chief Diversity Officer  of New York Julissa Gutierrez, and Liz Blacker, VP of Business Development at TelevisaUnivision and Port Washington resident. Blacker moderated the event, and the panelists spoke about their upbringings and their accomplishments.  Many mentioned how they grew up in hard times and places, but were able to stay determined and earn government jobs in hopes to change the way other people will be able to live.  They hope that their experiences and achievements will be able to influence other people of Hispanic heritage to follow their lead and make a difference in the world.  They went on to explain ways people can help and try to obtain government jobs, in what were inspiring speeches at a well-organized event by the Parent Resource Center. 

“I attended the Hispanic heritage month speaker panel and I found it very interesting and inspiring.  It definitely changed my perspective on how difficult life is for some people,” said sophomore Ryan Baxter.

Another event held by the PRC that celebrated Hispanic culture was a festival hosted at Blumenfeld Family Park.  Hundreds of people attended the free festival and celebrated Hispanic heritage.  The festival featured different styles of music, such as classic salsa, merengue and cumbia songs.  The band that performed was Orquesta los 9 del Sabor, a Latin American band with a repertoire that included hits by Marc Anthony, Celia Cruz and Sonora Dinamita.  Vendors in town served tacos, burritos, and empanadas, and there were also crafts and activities available for young children, such as face painting and making Dia de Los Muertos masks.  These activities were fun and interesting ways to spread cultural awareness to younger generations, and the successful event helped bring focus to Hispanic Heritage within the community. 

“The Hispanic Heritage festival was a really great experience and fun way to learn about the Hispanic heritage.  It was a really well set up event and I enjoyed it a lot,” said freshman Caleb Lundberg. 

For students who weren’t able to attend either of these events, there are many other ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.  For one, there are many documentaries about the Latinx experience.  HBO Max exclusively offers the movie The Latin Explosion: A New America, which explores the Latin influence on American music and entertainment.  Additionally, Schreiber’s library features many books written by Hispanic authors that touch upon their culture or experience in America, even if the books are fictional stories.  A few popular picks are The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera.  Reading stories that display Hispanic experience is an excellent way for students to celebrate this month of appreciation.  Students do not need to attend an event or even leave their house to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month.