Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off with hundreds celebrating Latino culture

Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off with a celebration on September 15, where more than 200 people celebrated Latino culture with food, drinks, and music.
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 11:30 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off on September 15! Augustana College hosted “Día de la Raza” (Race Day) for the community, where more than 200 people celebrated Latino culture with food, drinks, and music.

The celebratory events are open to everyone, allowing you to learn more about different cultures. It starts on the 15th of September because five Latin American countries gained their independence on this day. That includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico then celebrates its independence day on September 16, Chile celebrates on the 18 of September.

East Moline’s Mexican Day Parade and Fiesta was started in 2009 by Abel and Juanita Zertuche, who felt there weren’t enough big celebrations for the day in the Quad Cities. They started a fundraiser for local college students in 2016 and have donated over $100,000 to 152 students in our community!

“Hispanic Heritage Month to me is a month that we really highlight the positives of our community. It’s a time to highlight the positive aspects we have, it’s a time to highlight the culture, parts of our family. I think we celebrate throughout the year but it’s a special highlight as we celebrate what our community brings,” says LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) 5285 President Juanita Zertuche

While COVID-19 canceled Hispanic Heritage Month events in 2020, this year, celebrations continue with precautions. Zertuche says they will be outdoors for their parade and fiesta, with hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Social distancing will be recommended as well.

“It’s just the opportunity for us to be united and I think that’s very important. The unity and celebration of our cultures.”

A large number of Augustana College students were in attendance, many of whom say they appreciate being able to learn about different cultures. Lauren Pillion is a Junior at the school says it’s important they’re able to learn about Hispanic Heritage Month through cultural appreciation. “It’s super important that everyone feels included no matter who you are, that’s really important,” adds Ashely Bowden, a senior at the college.

First-year students Jazmine Ramirez and Alexa Collazo say events like this help them feel back at home. They recognize the school is predominantly white and say highlighting their culture with food and music from Mexico helps them to feel included. They also think it’s great their fellow students come out to celebrate with them, says Ramirez.

“It’s a month of education because even if you’re of Latino background, you get to learn about other countries and you get connected with Latinx community,” says Collazo. “It’s celebrating those who set the path for us. You don’t hear a lot about those who changed history with Latinx culture,” shares Ramirez.

Augustana’s Assistant Director of Student Inclusion and Diversity, Daisy Moran says, “it means a lot to me because it means we can celebrate our culture, bring awareness to our social issues and celebrate the leaders who have gotten us this far.”

East Moline’s Independence Day Parade and Fiesta is Sunday, September 19. The parade kicks off at noon at 3 St. and 15 Ave. Then the fiesta starts at 2 p.m. and goes on until 9:30 at Runner’s Park!

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage in the U.S. started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, then turned to a whole month in 1988.

Copyright 2021 KWQC. All rights reserved.