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See what you can learn during Hispanic Heritage Month

Unidos Venceremos
See what you can learn during Hispanic Heritage Month

The City of Buffalo and the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York began Hispanic Heritage Month with a kickoff celebration at the Downtown Library on September 15. The event featured live music, performances from bi-lingual public school children, as well as speeches and proclamation from local politicians. 2015 is the sixth year the city and the Hispanic Heritage Council has celebrated the honorary period from September 15 through October 15.

“Hispanic Heritage Month is about celebrating Hispanic history. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when Hispanics started coming to the Western New York and the Untied States, they had a big impact on culture, food, and music. To honor them, in 1988, President Roland Reagan decided to create National Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Hispanic Heritage Council Vice President, Maritza Vega.

The 2010 U.S. Census found that Hispanic and Latinos made up 10 percent of Buffalo’s population, the second largest minority in the city behind Africa Americans. Five years later it is evident that that number is on the rise, as Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash noted the large number of Hispanic children in city schools. “There is over 6,255 [Hispanic children] in Buffalo Public Schools. That represents about 18 percent, and growing,” said Dr. Kriner.

Despite the growing population, people around the city still may not recognize or be aware of the influence the Hispanic community has on the area. “I don’t think they’re very aware of it, and that’s what we want to do, we try and bring out awareness to people about the past, present, and future contributions of Hispanics here in Western New York,” said Vega. “The more we are out there the more people will know and embrace the Hispanic culture in the area.”

There will be plenty of chances throughout Hispanic Heritage Month for people to learn about Hispanic history. On September 18, M&T Bank’s Third Friday celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month at the Buffalo History Museum from 4 to 8pm. The event features music from “Son Boricua” and hands-on crafts from until 6pm, followed by a screening of the PBS documentary Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation, episode VI “Peril and Promise (1980-2000)” with commentary from UB Central and South American scholar Dr. Henry Taylor.

On September 23, from noon to 1pm, the Downtown Library will hold a talk titled: “Collecting the Stories: The Hispanic Heritage History Project.” Speaker Stephanie Bucalo, will provide an update on the archive collecting project, that is aimed at creating a accessible archive that will help share the stories and contributions of Hispanic people in Western New York through oral histories, documents, newspaper articles, photographs and memorabilia.

On September 24, the Downtown Library will host a second talk; “Nuestra America,” with speaker Dr. Henry Taylor, UB Central and South American Scholar and urbanist. “Not unlike the force that led the Cuban Revolution, similar forces are undermining people of color everywhere in the Americas. ‘It is our America and we have the right to build it any way we desire,’” stated a press release about the event. Following the talk at 5:30pm, the library will show episode IV of the Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation, “The New Latinos (1946-1965),” with commentary from Dr. Tamara Alsace and Gary Earl Ross.

For those looking to experience the vibrant Hispanic culture that is famous for its food and music can start on Saturday, September 19 when “GOYA Foods bring Latin Flavor to Canalside.” After digging into the Hispanic delights you can head over the Kleinhans Music Hall at 7pm for the Hispanic Heritage Month Main Event, feature many dance performances, with Johnny Ray Salsa Con Clase Orquesta headlining. Other events through out the month include tango dance demonstrations at Buffalo State College on September 26, Hispanic cuisine cooking demonstrations at the Buffalo Science Museum on September 27, and on October 15, the Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy will honor the pioneers and surviving family members responsible for bilingual education in the Buffalo Public Schools.

All events are free of charge. Visit for more information, and a full schedule of events and times.

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