Hispanic Heritage Month: A celebration of heritage and culture

Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans.


Hearst Television celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing stories about the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. We’re speaking with community leaders, activists and elders to talk about their heritage rooted in Latin American countries.

You can watch all of our conversations with these Hispanic and Latino American community leaders below.


Boston, Massachusetts

In 2014, Berklee College of Music formally launched Berklee Latino to elevate the education, awareness and appreciation of Latin music and its cultural impact on the world. Internationally renowned musicians travel from all over the world to Boston to perform with a carefully curated group of musicians from the school. It's part of the college's Latino program, led by four-time Grammy winner Oscar Stagnaro.

"When I moved to Boston -- this is funny -- the first gig, I was playing country western music," Stagnaro said.

Read more about the Berklee Latino program's story here.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

There's no shortage of ethnic food options in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but Edgar Alvarez says that wasn't the case when he first came here. Alvarez brought something to Pittsburgh that he said was missing: authentic Mexican food. Now he has the best tacos in the city — but his journey is about more than just food. When Alvarez cooks tacos, he's pouring his heart and soul into every meal.

"You have to put a lot of love in what you are doing," he said. "If you don't do your stuff with love, it's not going to work."

Read more of Alvarez's story here.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hispanic Heritage comes in many forms. Activist Dolores Huerta says it goes back generations in New Mexico. She spent more than 50 years organizing peaceful demonstrations in the U.S. Huerta advocated for farmworkers, immigrants and women in the United States. The outcomes were not always peaceful.

"I was badly battered. I had my ribs broken, pulverized my spleen, and I almost died for doing a peaceful protest," Huerta said.

Read more of Dolores Huerta's story here.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Laura Morillo, a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, resident who fled communist Cuba as a teenager and worked tirelessly and persistently to bring her mother and two sisters to the United States as a young woman, is sharing her family's story of immigration.

“When I was at the airport, and I was leaving, a lady there said, ‘Don’t cry. You’re leaving because you want to. You’re leaving your mom because you want to do it,’” Morillo said.

Read more of Laura Morillo's story here.

Kansas City, Missouri

One Kansas City community leader mobilized Latinos to vote and run for office. Paul Rojas was also the first Latino elected to state office in Missouri. His last name, Rojas, is proudly displayed around his home on Kansas City's westside. But his first name was given to him in school.

"My real name is Raul. I guess the nuns took the little foot off the R and made it Paul, a P, but that was not uncommon," Rojas said.

Read more of Paul Rojas' story here.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

For more than 30 years, this dance studio has been teaching students of all ages the culture of Mexican Ballet Folklórico dance. The sound of music and heels clicking is a small part of what goes into traditional Mexican Ballet Folklórico.

Director at Baila Baila! Dance Company Israela Garcia said, “A lot of these students find something that they really love and they, it's a connection that they don't expect to have. And once they have it it's just natural.”

Read more of Baila Baila! Dance Company's story here.

Sacramento, California

Mariachi Bonitas isn't your typical mariachi band. Dinorah Klingler has been singing her heart out since she was just a kid in Mexico City.

"Music is the universal language," Klingler said. "Music brings you peace, brings you harmony in your life. That is my belief."

Read more of Klingler's story here.

New Orleans, Louisiana

As the president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, Mayra Pineda has worked tirelessly to build a favorable business environment for Hispanic owners throughout the state.

"It's been wonderful to see the community grow, but as you know the Hispanic culture and Heritage is very deeply engrained in Louisiana. From the founding times, you know just recently we celebrated a tricentennial and you saw the King and Queen of Spain visit Louisiana for that reason," Pineda said.

Read more of Pineda's story here.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania senior center is in a unique position to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because it was organized partly to do just that – preserve the culture of its participants.

"We're giving them a place where they feel comfortable. They trust us. They can speak their language freely. They feel at home," Gloria Merrick said.

Read more of the senior center's story here.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is rich with Native American, Mexican and Spanish culture. A big part of the culture is the language. Throughout New Mexico's history, speaking Spanish was frowned upon. Now it's embraced through dual language education.

"It is what we as a school system can offer our students in a rigorous way the opportunity to regain part of their history," said Antonio Gonzales, assistant superintendent and former dual language teacher, "Because maybe their history to get away from them."

Read more of the dual-language program story here.

Rogers, Arkansas

Mayra Esquivel works at Arkansas Immigrant Defense — a nonprofit law firm that helps immigrants gain their paths to citizenship. Esquivel and her colleagues help clients with family petitions, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals, naturalizations and pathways to citizenship for immigrant youth who have been abused or abandoned.

"It is extremely fulfilling that I come into work and work with our clients. I am constantly inspired," Esquivel said.

Read more of Esquivel's story here.

West Palm Beach, Florida

Inside The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach, Florida, curator Rolando Chang Barrero, also known as “The Bird Man,” creates his next piece. He’s not only an artist but an activist.

“It’s a powerful means of communication,” Barrero said. “Whether it deals with Cuba, homosexuality, because I am gay, the artwork also stems from that larger-than-life image. So, it hits you.”

Read more of Barrero's story here.

Burlington, Vermont

When Ray Vega performs, he wants his music to have an impact. The Puerto Rican musician from New York City now calls Burlington, Vermont, home. That's where he regularly entertains audiences with Latin jazz at Hotel Vermont.

"I really feel that when you're moving people in that way, you are definitely getting to them," Vega said of his performances.

Read more of Vega's story here.

New Orleans, Louisiana

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we're also featuring a great musical talent. At the Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jack Pena warms up on bassoon for an exciting stretch ahead.

"Finally we are going to get back to full orchestra performance on Oct. 20 in City Park," Pena said.

Read more of Pena's story here.

Stockton, California

A cucumber field with 500 acres of produce ready for harvest served as the office for an icon in the Hispanic community on a hot summer day. Luis Magaña's mission that day: Help farmworkers with anything they need.

"Now we have a lot of issues in the community: racism, discrimination, lack of study opportunities for our kids," Magaña said.

Read more of Magaña's story here.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

When it comes to mariachi music, there is a meaning behind every mariachi traje.

"We share a lot of special moments with people, in their weddings and their birthdays," said Mundo Marquez, a local mariachi musician.

Read more about mariachi music here.

Watsonville, California

Gina Castañeda will flat out tell you, soccer saved her life. Even though a childhood of neglect and abuse, Castañeda learned the game, a sport deeply embedded in the Hispanic culture. By her early teens, the high school team was her lifeline.

“By the time I got to high school, I was homeless and living on the streets,” Castañeda said.

Read more about Castañeda's soccer program here.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Minor League Baseball team has gone by many names over the years: the Warthogs, the Dash and "los Rayados." Dash president and general manager C.J. Johnson explained the origin and meaning of the team's rebrand.

"The straight definition [of los Rayados] is 'the striped ones,' so it kind of pays some homage to our pinstripes, the Chicago White Sox pinstripes, so that's the direct translation," Johnson said.

Read more about los Rayados' story here.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

From the streets of Chicago to Puerto Rico, a school dropout to a college graduate, the president and CEO of the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma is using his life experience to help thousands of Latinos.

"Well, I was a Puerto Rican kid born and raised in Chicago – southside Chicago, where all the mess is still going on today. A mom that didn't know how to raise a kid, so I was raised by the streets," said Raul Font, president of the Latino Community Development Agency.

Read more of Font's story here.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

When you think of Mexican food, perhaps, tacos and burritos come to mind. But there's a specific type of dish that is such a delicacy and it comes from Michoacán, Mexico. In Milwaukee, you'll find murals, parks and carnitas Don Lucho.

"I brought this from Mexico. They showed me when I was about 10 years old," owner Jose Luis Mejia said.

Read more of Mejia's story here.