Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month, recognizing and honoring the histories, cultures and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
But why does it begin mid-month?
The observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. The week later was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period, beginning on Sept. 15.
Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, also falls within this 30 day period.
The Adalberto & Ana Guerrero Student Center, Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, the University Libraries, and units and organizations across the University of Arizona campus will be honoring the month with a series of free and open events, including:
- Sept. 14: The UA Health Sciences Hispanic Center of Excellence will host a welcome-back fiesta from 5 to 6:30 p.m., to include networking opportunities, mariachi performances and food. The event will be held in the Kiewit Auditorium of the Arizona Cancer Center, 1515 N. Campbell Ave.
- Sept. 15: Abuelitas(os) Reaching Out to Mentor y Apapachar Students, known as the AROMAS program, will be held with special guest Mercedez Holtry, a spoken-word poet and Chicana feminist from Albuquerque. The noon event will be held in Room 205 of the Chavez Building.
- Sept. 21: Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta, San Diego State-Imperial Valley Spanish professor, will present his talk "How Can You Listen to That?! Narcocorridos and the Notion of Heroism in Greater Mexico" as part of the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry's Show&Tell series. During his multimedia presentation, Ramírez-Pimienta will explore the origins and development of narcocorridos, which are narrative historic songs. The event will be held at 6 p.m. at Playground Bar and Lounge, 278 E. Congress St.
- Sept. 22: Muevete, a monthly fitness and stress-relief class in which participants engage in different exercises, dances or fitness lessons, will be held at the Old Main fountain, 5:30-6:30 p.m. The Zumba session will be led by Michelle Ortiz, diversity and inclusion program manager for the UA College of Medicine. Everyone is welcome, and no experience is necessary. Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and bring water. Another session, featuring the Brazilian martial art Capoeira, will be held at the same time and location on Oct. 13.
- Sept. 22: Dan Buckley, a local documentary producer, writer and music critic, will give his talk "Affirmations and Surprises: Following the Transformational Trail of Tucson's Youth Mariachi and Folklorico Dance Movement" at 6 p.m. at Special Collections, located at the UA's Main Library, 1510 E. University Blvd. Buckley is working on a new documentary, "The Mariachi Miracle." The award-winning Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School will perform.
- Sept. 28: Faculty members Lydia Otero and Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, both of the UA's Department of Mexican American Studies, will present during an event sponsored by the Mexican American Heritage and Preservation in Southern Arizona. The discussion, about preservation efforts, will include authors, librarians, county officials and others. The 6 p.m. event will be held at the Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St.
- Oct. 6: University Libraries Special Collections will welcome Juan Aguilar and other local artists to "Una Noche de Corridos" at 6 p.m. The corrido is a narrative song that tells a story, often about an important event or an issue of social justice. These ballads are therefore an invaluable component of oral history. Bob Diaz, Special Collections curator for the performing arts, will present a brief lecture, "An Introduction to the Corrido," before the musical performance.
- Oct. 21: Artist, educator and activist Dan Guerrero will speak to the Chicano and contemporary LGBTQ movements and address the importance of solidarity across cultural currents. Guerrero will explore and detail the intersections of the social and political movements through storytelling and historic photos. The event will be held at noon in Room 205 of the Chavez Building.
- Oct. 22: The Fox School of Music will present guest artists from Mexico: mezzo-soprano Rebeca Samaniego, violist Angel Medina Gonzalez and pianist Gabriel Perez Acosta. The trio will perform music by contemporary and 20th century Mexican composers at Crowder Hall during a 7:30 p.m. event.
The Adalberto & Ana Guerrero Student Center's event information is available online.
La Monica Everett-Haynes and Jane Prescott-Smith contributed to this article.