National Hispanic Heritage Month, instated in the U.S. in 1988, celebrates and recognizes contributions made by folks tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean.
September 15 through October 15 encompasses several días de las independencias (days of independence), including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15); Mexico (September 16); Chile (September 18). Indigenous People’s Day, or Día de la Raza, falls on October 12.
Colorado’s land—originally home to the Apache, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and Ute nations and the Pueblo and Shoshone tribes—shifted between control of France, Spain, and Mexico from the 1500s to 1700s. Colorado’s 1876 State Constitution was penned in Spanish, German, and English. Today, Colorado’s population of Latinx/Hispanic residents exceeds 1 million, and Denver is close to one-third Latinx. Figures such as Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, Paula Sandoval, Susana Cordova, Carlos Frésquez, and many others have shaped our social, economic, educational, and political environments.
Engage with the imaginations and actions of Latinx/Hispanic family, friends, and neighbors through these activities and events.
Sing along with Sonia de los Santos
Connect with this acclaimed children’s artist as she performs cantos (songs)—in both Spanish and English—reflecting her life experiences growing up in Mexico, moving to another country, and learning about other cultures. Register with Arapahoe Public Libraries to tune in September 26, 11-11:30am. arapahoelibraries.bibliocommons.com
Enter Museo de las Americas for Free
Enjoy museum tours, arts and crafts, Bookmobile, and giveaways all led in Spanish—todo en Español! October 10, from noon to 5pm. Reserve free tickets online: museo.org
Visit Hecho en Colorado
Adrianna Abarca, the curator of this exhibit at History Colorado, employs her family’s art collection to gift the public an understanding of deep Colorado Latinx history. In Cafecitos, small group tours held every Friday morning at 9am now through January 8, Abarca explains themes in artists’ works and the importance of what’s presented to the social development of Colorado. Kids are encouraged to join and participate with coloring pages drawn by local Latinx artists. historycolorado.org
Eat at Comal Heritage Food Incubator
Chefs and entrepreneurs—immigrants and refugees who originate from countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Syria, Iraq, and Ethiopia—serve up flavorful food at Comal, a lunch restaurant in northeast Denver.. The incubator also provides support for them to succeed long-term. Menus shift frequently according to who is cooking; consider this place your passport to many different eating experiences. focuspoints.org
More delicious dining options:
–Prieto’s Catering, Mexican (Comal graduate!)
–Cafe Brazil, Brazilian
–Maria Empanada, Argentinian
–Arepas House, Venezuelan
–Los Parceros, Colombian
Watch Fiesta Colorado’s mariachi and dance performances
Directed by Denver native Jeanette Trujillo-Lucero, this Mexican and Spanish dance group helps performers of all ages understand their roots and family traditions. They typically have an annual performance at Live at Levitt, but this year’s event had to be cancelled. Check out last year’s showcase on youtube. youtube.com
Buy party supplies at La Fiesta piñateria
Federal Boulevard in west Denver is well known for its stretch of mercados (markets), panaderias (bakeries), iglesias (churches), and quinceañera formal wear boutiques. La Fiesta on the corner of Federal and 23rd Ave. features a wide variety of piñatas, floral arrangements, and candy. lafiestaymas.com
Shop at Hijos del Sol
Head to the Laitno Cultural Arts Center’s boutique to pick up local artisan goods made locally and all over the Americas. Support Latinx and Indigenous creatives; make a reservation to shop with Adrianna Abarca. lcac-denver.org
Participate in a collective Sobremesa
When you’re in good company and have good conversation, typically after sharing a meal, you’re having a sobremesa. The Latino Cultural Arts Center (LCAC) is hosting community sobremesas, inviting local artists, families, youth, and educators to help them define the center’s core values in anticipation of their integrated community arts center in 2022. Join the series of Zoom talks or engage your family with the LCAC’s topics, including: What does cultural courage mean? Find more information and community responses at lcac-denver.org.
Honor those passed away, create new things together
The LCAC, D3Arts, Chicano Humanities & Arts Council, MSU Denver Department of Chicano Studies, and more, present Ofrendas: Offerings of Hope. This month’s worth of collaborative, creative efforts will preserve and advance ancient and modern traditions that make up Día de los Muertos. It’s a response to losses experienced during COVID-19 and time to “share in a culture of learning and healing.” Find programming throughout October until November 2nd. lcac-denver.org
Support food security efforts
Denver’s Westwood neighborhood is home to the Re:Vision co-op. It’s full of positive, hard working helping hands. The area is known as a food desert, meaning there are no accessible grocery stores. Promotoras, community health workers found in just about every nation and culture, are employed by Re:Vision to connect with families and establish participation in personal and communal health. Learn more and find ways to participate at revision.coop.
GrowHaus, serving folks in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, also supports promotoras and rapid response food distribution through its Cosechando Salud (Harvesting Health) program. Since late March, they’ve distributed over 10,000 packages, the equivalent of over 300,000 meals. Promotoras connect with community members to address changing needs and develop virtual and socially distanced programs such as a backyard garden class and upcoming Patio Visit classes on health and wellness. Learn more at thegrowhaus.org.