How Are You Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month?

How Are You Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month?

Looking for special ways to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans – one of the most culturally-rich, varied, and powerful minorities in the nation?

Here’s an idea: Delve into Hispanic history, art, and music, such as the paintings of Frida Kahlo, pictured here.

1. Tune in to LATINO AMERICANS on your local PBS station this fall (broadcast times vary by location). This major documentary series — the first ever on television to focus on the Latino American experience — promises to deliver sizzling drama along with the history.

You can get a sneak peek on the PBS website, which includes videos from each episode, starting with episode one: Foreigners in Their Own Land.

Poke around the Latino-Americans section of the website, especially the Timeline page, which details important historical dates and events, with photos and video clips mixed in.

The timeline begins with: “1565, Saint Augustine brings the first European settlement to the United States, introducing Catholicism and the Spanish language in Florida.” (FYI: St. Augustine, Florida, claims the title of “Nation’s Oldest City,” or first permanently occupied European settlement.)

2. View art by Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo:

Even if your city’s art museum doesn’t own a Kahlo, you can find one of her 200 paintings online. Click on this link to see her most powerful (and disturbing) self-portrait, Henry Ford Hospital (also known as The Flying Bed).

Kahlo was in ill health most of her life, first from polio at age 6, then from severe injuries suffered during a bus accident at age 18. She underwent many surgeries afterward, but continued her diary-like self-portraits using a special easel that allowed her to paint from bed.

For more on Frida, see the 2002 bio-pic titled (what else?) Frida, starring Salma Hayek as Kahlo and Alfred Molino as Diego Rivera, her bigger-than-life, handful-of-a-husband.

3. Listen to the mesmerizing music of a new Latina favorite, Esperanza Spalding.

Click on the link above to enjoy her hour-long performance on Austin City Limits on PBS. This multi-talented Afro-Latina vocalist and bassist was born in 1984 in Portland, Oregon. (As a fellow Portland-native, I consider her a hometown favorite.)

But now the whole world loves Spalding and her repertoire of jazz, fusion, and bossa nova. She’s won three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist – the only jazz musician to be so honored.

Of course we can still enjoy our old favorites, such as Cuban-born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan. Winner of seven Grammys over a long and celebrated career, Estefan is still hot, hot, hot.

What are you doing to celebrate this month? We’d love to hear!

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in rainy Portland, Oregon but you can visit her at

FAQ’s About National Hispanic Heritage Month

FAQ’s About National Hispanic Heritage Month

What is it?

Welcome to this annual national celebration – currently in full-swing – commemorating the achievements, culture, and history of the largest minority group in the U.S. Latino Americans have contributed greatly, over the course of the past 500 years, to making this a truly diverse nation.

When is it?

September 15 to October 15 mark the dates for the observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month. It began in1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was expanded to a full 30-day period in 1988.

Why does it start in mid-September?

A number of Latin American countries celebrate their independence day on Sept. 15th: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Following on their heels is Mexico, with independence celebrated on the 16th, Chile on the18th, and Belize on the 21st.

Why does it continue on into mid-October?

One Latina nurse joking explained to me: “That’s just our way. If a party invitation is for Saturday night we’ll arrive on Friday night, and the party will still be going on Sunday.”  

Another possible explanation is that it was stretched into the next month in order to include Columbus Day on October 12. Though Italian, Columbus’s four voyages to the “New World” were financed by the monarchs of Spain.

This is the only Month Of-type of national observance that I’ve ever heard of that spans two months. How about you?

Who’s considered Hispanic?

People who self-identify as Hispanic, generally those who have family that hails from: Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Which is it — Latino/Latina or Hispanic?

As you’ve probably heard, a rose is a rose is a rose. Though some people prefer one term rather than the other, practically speaking, they are interchangeable. Some experts claim younger generations are more likely to self-identify as Latino (male) and Latina (female).

Where is it celebrated?

Coast-to-coast, baby! Look for major institutions, such as the Smithsonian, NPR, National Park Service – and even the National Football League – to mount special events, programming, and exhibits.

Why is it celebrated?

More and more Americans identify as being of Hispanic origin — 17% of the population, or more than 50 million citizens as of July 1, 2012, the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Latinos now comprise the largest racial or ethnic minority group in the nation. In fact, the size of our Hispanic population is the second-largest in the world, right behind Mexico which ranks #1 with a population of 112 million.

As the country becomes increasing Hispanic, even in states that historically have had few Latino citizens, it’s even more crucial that the nursing professions responds to the demographic shift. We must train more Hispanic nurses, help non-Hispanic nurses increase their cultural competency, and discover new ways to reach out to and serve Hispanic patients.

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director for an ergonomics-focused firm, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and you can visit her online at – See more at:…

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and you can visit her online at