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September 14, 2004 > Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

by Susana Nuñez

September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a month dedicated to raising public awareness and appreciation of Hispanic/ Latino culture. The observation was initiated in 1968 when Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, the observance was expanded to include the entire 31-day period.

The month, which runs through October 15, focuses directly on the ingenuity, creativity, cultural, and political experiences of Hispanic Americans. In addition, September 15 celebrates the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Also, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

As a people who have contributed greatly to American culture, Hispanics/Latinos are the largest ethnic minority. According to a United States Census release, as of July 1, 2003, Hispanics/Latinos make up 13.7 percent of the United States population. That's over 39.9 million! By 2050, the percentage is expected to rise to 24 percent, at 102.6 million. Around the bay, activities for everyone to enjoy with their Hispanic/Latino friends and neighbors will be held in the following weeks. For a taste of what's to come, the following is a list of events to celebrate and enhance your knowledge of this influential culture.

Alameda County Library Presents Latino Cultural Arts Series
Event Location: Alameda County Library (check for local branch)
Time: library hours

US Bank graciously provided funding to the Foundation for a series of programs honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month. The programs feature a variety of wonderful family-oriented events at Alameda County Library Branches. Mr. Juan L. Sanchez entertains audiences with Musica de Las Americas/Music of the Americas, a bilingual program of songs and stories from all over the Americas. Ms. Olga Loya, a master storyteller, with stories full of mystery, suspense and humor. Joe and Ronna Leon delight audiences with their popular Caterpillar Puppets and PINATA program. For more information, contact the Library at (510) 745-1514.

Viva Las Americas
Saturday, September 18
Event Location: Pier 39, San Francisco
Time: 12-5 PM

This festive event showcases music and dance performances commemorating the artistry of Mexico, Central and South America. Mariachis strumming their guitars serenade visitors as they stroll throughout PIER 39. Fun for children includes traditional Latin American craft making and face painting. For further information, call Pier 39 at (415) 705-5500.

Tardeada Latina Silent Auction Fundraiser
Saturday, September 18
Event Location: Duran Foundation 1035 Carleton Street, Berkeley
Time: 2 PM

The Bay Area Institute for Advancement, Inc. will be holding its fourth annual Silent Auction fundraiser to benefit its bilingual (Spanish/English) childcare centers (Centro VIDA & Bahia School Age Program). BAHIA's mission is to provide quality bilingual and multi-cultural early childhood education, particularly serving low-income Latino families of Northern Alameda County, enabling them to improve the quality of life for their children. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Featuring DJ José Ruiz; Catering provided by Cancun Sabor Mexicano of Berkeley and Tlaloc Sabor Mexicano of San Francisco. Tickets: $50/person, $75/couple. For more info: (510) 525-1463,

A Talk by Dr. Solimar
Sunday, September 19
Event Location: 34007 Alvarado Niles Rd., Union City
Time: 3 PM

Vernice Solimar, PhD is here to talk about the values of the indigenous people ion the Amazonian rainforest and how these values can be helpful today in our own lives.
During her three-week stay in Quito and the Ecuadorian Rainforest, Vernice directly experienced the spiritual depth, beauty and living presence of Pachamama, the sacred Earth Mother. She is here to share the experience of her journey through slides and discussion of indigenous wisdom.

2nd Annual Dunsmuir Mariachi Festival
Sunday, September 19
Event Location: 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland (off of Highway 580)
Time: 12-6 pm

The historic Dunsmuir Estate in Oakland is once again planning to bring a touch of Mexico to Oakland. This year's event will feature Mariachi bands and Ballet Folklorico dancers. There will be cultural exhibits, crafts and entertainment for all ages. Tickets are $20; at the door, $25. For more information, call (510) 615-5555 x7

Festival Cine Latino (Latino Theater)
Friday- Sunday, September 17-19
Event Location: Presentation Theater, 2350 Turk Street, University of California San Francisco
Time: (varies)

See films directed by US and Latin American filmmakers and cutting-edge videographers at the 12th Annual Festival ÁCine Latino! hosted by Cine Accién. Over 40 films will be shown. Tickets are $8, general admission and $5 for Cine Accién members, students and seniors. For more information, call (415) 553-8135,,

A Speech by Author, Activist Elizabeth Martinez
Thursday, September 23
Event Location: Toland Hall, UC Hall, 533 Parnassus Ave., University of California San Francisco
Time: 12-1:00 PM

Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez will be the keynote speaker for the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. The topic of her talk is "Multicultural Alliances in Building the Road to Educational Justice." She is best known for her bilingual volume 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, which became the basis for a video that she co-directed. Her latest book is De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century. All are invited to the event, which is sponsored by the Latin American Campus Association. Light refreshments will be available.

Benefit Fashion Show - Tarde Internacional del Rebozo
Friday, September 24
Event Location: The Mexican Heritage Plaza at 1700 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose
Time: 5:30-8:30 PM

The rebozo from Santa Maria del Rio, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is a pre-Hispanic accessory that is now considered a piece of art because they are still weaved by hand! This event will feature "rebozo" dances by the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno, highlighting the traditions from various states in Mexico, modeling, arts and crafts, displays, music by Juanita Ulloa and more. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For more information, check out

San Jose Tamale Festival
Saturday, October 23
Event Location: Emma Prusch Park, San Jose (at Story & King Rd.)
Time: 10 AM-4:30 PM

Hot Tamales, anyone? This year's San Jose Tamale Festival was designed with a few things in mind. To promote, preserve, celebrate and share the Mexican Heritage and Culture with the communities of the Bay Area with a healthy family environment of goodwill, music, dance, and of course, tamales! Free admission. For more information, contact Roger Hooks at (408) 617-2520,,

Casa de los Esp’ritus: The Paul Sherrill Days of the Dead Collection
September 8- November 27
Event Location: The Mexican Museum of San Francisco; Marina Boulevard and Buchanan St. Fort Mason, Building D, San Francisco
Time: Wednesday to Saturday 11 AM to 5 PM (Gallery hours)

The Paul Sherrill Days of the Dead Collection is drawn from the prized art collection of the late San Francisco architect, Paul Sherrill, who over his lifetime gathered more than 600 pieces of popular Mexican art. For more information, call (415) 202-9700 or visit Museum admission: Members and children 12 and under free, adults $3.00, students and seniors $2.00, group tours $25.00, first Wednesday of every month free!

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