In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson initiated the observation of Hispanic Heritage Week to recognize the contributions of the Hispanic-American community and to inspire cultural awareness. A decade later, President Ronald Reagan expanded the observance to span an entire month, with celebrations beginning on Sept. 15--the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries. In 1821, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all declared their independence. The anniversaries for Mexican and Chilean independence also follow within days (Sept. 16 and 18).
Here in Western New York, the tradition of celebrating this historic month continues. The Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY will be hosting a kickoff event to commemorate the national observance at the Buffalo & Erie County Library, located at 1 Lafayette Square, at noon on Friday, Sept. 14. The event will be attended by Hispanic community leaders, Erie County and Buffalo City officials, and Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown, as well as students from the D'Youville-Porter Campus Public School #3. Later that evening, a performance by the Hispanic Music Youth Project will take place at River Fest Park at 6 p.m.
Events will continue this weekend with a Hispanic Veterans Memorial 5K Run and Family Walk on Saturday at Canalside, starting at 10 a.m. The Buffalo Zoo will be hosting Hispanic Heritage Family Day on Saturday as well, starting at 11 a.m.
The rest of the month will include a variety of events, including cultural performances, educational presentations, a film festival at the Market Arcade Theater, and many more. There will also be ongoing events such as art exhibitions, musical performances at River Fest Park, and exhibits at the Buffalo & Erie Co. Historical Society. A finale event will take place at D'Youville-Porter PS #3 on Friday, Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m.