National Hispanic Heritage Month officially kicks off on Sept. 15, and despite the pandemic, Dallas has plenty of ways to celebrate the Lone Star State’s Spanish-speaking and Latinx communities.
Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, himself a Texan, initiated the Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 to acknowledge and celebrate the rich culture, history, and contributions of Mexicans, South and Latin Americans, and other Spanish-speaking people in the United States. It became a month-long event in 1988 when Pres. Ronald Reagan signed a law to create it a national, 30-day period every year starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.
The month has particular importance for Texas, where an estimated 39 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or as having Latinx roots. Almost 30 percent of Texas’s 28 million person population speaks Spanish at home, and that figure looks set to increase. Texas’s Hispanic population is expected to continue to grow, becoming the largest population group in Texas as soon as 2022.
The following is a sampling of many of the events and programs being held in Dallas. While many events will be virtual, some will give participants a chance to get outside and enjoy the cooler early Fall temperatures.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is kicking off the month with the Quinceanera Fashion Show on Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. But the event won’t just be a quick catwalk of 15- and 16-year-old young women showing off their dresses. The celebration, now in its third year, will also include food vendors, a Tamale cooking demonstration, and live music by Havana NRG. The event is free with the price of admission to the gardens.
See the garden's website for more information.
City Council Member Jaime Resendez, who represents District 5, is hosting a virtual program on Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. to celebrate Latinx culture. His program is part of City Hall’s Welcoming Week, a program promoting Dallas’ diverse communities, including immigrants and refugees. Resendez’s event will feature Mayor Eric Johnson’s Welcoming Week Proclamation, an art exhibition, and performances representing the diverse talents of performers and artists across Dallas.
This year’s Welcoming Week theme is “Creating Home Together.”
Latino Culture Center
The Latino Culture Center is featuring an exhibit of four Dallas-based Latino, Mexican-American, and Chicano artists continuing throughout the month, starting Sept. 18 and running until Oct. 24. Visitors can view the exhibits of Quetzal Quatro: Genaro Hernandez, Juan J. Hernandez, Samuel Torres, and Jose Vargas at the center’s gallery by appointment only during on Thursdays from 4 pm to 8 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 1 pm to 5 pm.
The center will also conduct a series of virtual conversations with artists during the month, including Francisco Moreno, a Mexican-American visual artist, and Maggie Wolters, an artist specializing in traditional Mexican arts and crafts, particularly Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead crafts.
For those wanting to get more in touch with their past, the center will host an online class on genealogy research course on Sept. 19. Jo Ann Valentin, the community outreach coordinator with the Hispanic Organization for Genealogy and Research, or HOGAR de Dallas, will guide participants from beginners to advanced researchers to dig deeper into the history of their ancestors.
Check the center’s Facebook page for more events and details on its programming.
Dallas Public Libray
The city library continues its robust online programming this month with a focus on Hispanic Heritage Month starting on Sept. 12 with a Mexico Music and Dance course at 11 a.m.
Other events include a discussion on the history of Mexico’s Independence Day (which is on Sept. 16, not May 5, despite America’s love of Cinqo de Mayo! May 5 is the day Mexico Army's defeated the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.) The class will be held on Sept. 16 at 12:00 p.m.
On Oct. 2 at 12:00 p.m., listen in and ask questions about the term Latinx to learn where it came from and what it means.
The library has several other offerings. To learn more and register online for virtual classes, go to the library’s website.
Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art’s exhibit Flores Mexicanas: Women in Modern Mexican Art opened in February, but had to close down in March for three months of COVID-related closures. The museum is now open and continues to be free, although reservations are required to maintain the museum’s capacity guidelines. The exhibit runs until January 2021. As with many of the museum’s collections, a virtual tour is also available at virtual.dma.org. Check the museum’s website for other events related to Hispanic Heritage Month.