Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 - October 15

Hispanic Heritage Surrounds Sonoma County

by Maya Cramer (she/her)

With Hispanic/Latino residents making up roughly 26.5% of Sonoma County’s population, there were numerous celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM).

The Sonoma County Library has many resources that are available to check out year-round regarding HHM. They offer books, movies and music on CDs in Spanish. On Oct. 5, they held a screening of a documentary called “El Cacao.” This film uncovered the lives of indigenous farmers who are dealing with Fairtrade issues. Michelle Aguilar, the director of “El Cacao,” was also available to answer questions in English, although the film was presented in Spanish.

In addition, local artist Maria Gonzalez-Blue taught teens how to make papel picado, a traditional Mexican decoration which translates to “pecked paper,” on Sept. 22 at the Roseland Regional Library. They are used for birthdays, weddings and Mexican cuisine restaurants, but they can also be seen around town during HHM.

At Petaluma High School, Spanish teacher Ms. Kovanis helps the students she interacts with every day celebrate HHM. Although this month can vary for everyone, the general idea is the same for all. Ms. Kovanis said that HHM is a “Time to celebrate [the] culture, language [and] heritage of our Latino community.”

HHM can be a time of celebration through dancing, watching parades or even just watching videos to embrace Hispanic culture. Sonoma County is heavily populated with people of Hispanic heritage, so it is crucial to educate oneself about their culture and how they have influenced our community.

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

by Jaden Gregorio (he/him)

National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, honors and recognizes the history, culture, accomplishments and influences of Hispanic-Americans.

There are countless ways Hispanic-Americans have transformed daily life in the United States. Whether it’s the delicious smell of Hispanic restaurants around town or lively Hispanic music on the radio, or even the Hispanic politicians on the news or famous actors or actresses of this descent in various films, Hispanic culture is everywhere. These contributions are seen from modern Hispanic-American figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda, but also historical heroes like Cesar Chavez, Jovita Idár and Sylvia Mendez.

Throughout the month, many activities and traditions celebrate Hispanic heritage. Enjoying delicious Hispanic meals, watching telenovelas or films with Hispanic actors, and grooving to Hispanic music are all ways to share the fun and love for this culture. Hispanic Heritage Month offers both an opportunity to connect with Hispanic culture and a chance to learn to respect the long-lasting Hispanic influences in the U.S.

“It’s about our personal identity,” Petaluma High School Spanish teacher, Ms. Lua, said. “We honor our culture and recognize the contributions of important Hispanic people and Latino-Americans to our society. By honoring our culture, we get stronger self-esteem. Love yourself entirely for who you are.”

The month begins on Sept. 15 to recognize the Independence Days of several countries in Latin America, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Within the days following, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence on Sept. 16 and 18.

Hispanic Heritage Month was originally enacted only as a single week by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. However, President Ronald Reagan extended the celebration to an entire month in 1988.