Oak Cliff, Uptown, and West Dallas are three neighborhoods that are filled with the rich culture established by a thriving Hispanic community. These and other North Texas spots will be great places to explore as we observe Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed from September 15th to October 15th, started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 when it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Ronald Reagan later extended the observance to 30 days and was enacted into law in 1988.

Traditionally, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates both Hispanic and Latino culture with concerts, parades, fairs, and festivals. It is a time to reflect on the many contributions Latinos have made in this country and throughout the world.

The placement of the Hispanic Heritage Month, September and October, honors the Independence Days of multiple Latin American countries that include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.

According to the Texas Historical Commission’s article, Hispanic Texans: A Journey from Empire to Democracy, “The arrival of Cubans in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Puerto Ricans in the 1980s, had made for increasing diversity of the state’s Hispanic or Latino population.

The U.S. Census records nearly 9.5 million people of Hispanic descent living in Texas, representing 38 percent of the state’s total population.

But of course, Texas’ connection to Mexico is long and deep dating back to the 16th century.  First a Spanish, and later, a Mexican province, Spaniards named it Texas, pronounced Tay-has.

There are many landmarks, streets, and historic spots throughout the Lone Star State that are reminders of its Mexican heritage such as the Rio Grande (Big River), El Paso (The Pass), and San Jacinto or Saint  Hyacinth, named after the battle fought along the San Jacinto River where Texans won their independence from Mexico in 1836. There are streets named San Jacinto in Austin, Houston, and Dallas.

What’s in a Name?

Just as labels used to identify African-Americans have gone through many changes, so have the terms used for Texans whose roots can be traced to Mexico, including Hispanic, Spanish, Spanish American, Mexican-American, Mexicano, Latino,Chicano, and Tejano.

On a national scale, the confusion about some of the differences between Hispanic, Latino, and more recently Latinx continues for some…What better time than National Hispanic Heritage Month to provide some factual information on the subject?

According to an article published by Remezcla entitled Hispanic vs. Latino vs. Latinx, the National Council of La Raza lobbied the government to come up with a term that would unite Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. mainly to establish a political agenda that addressed their needs. La Raza, formed in Texas in 1967, was born out of the Chicano Movement. The group organized boycotts and walkouts in public schools which served to empower students and make the establishment aware of their refusal to accept discrimination and substandard education. The organization went on to focus on elections to make political changes throughout the state.  In 1970, La Raza Unida established itself as a political party, which dissolved later in the decade, but its work should not be overlooked. The organization said to be the largest Latino Civil Rights organization in the United States, is now known as UnidosUS.

The Remezcla article goes on to explain that Hispanic refers to anyone from Spain or Spanish-speaking parts of Latin America. It, therefore, promotes Spanish heritage, something many opposed because of the violent ways that they colonized our countries and the erasure of Afro-Latinos and Indigenous people.

Latino began to be used in the 1990s to refer to people from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America. It is sometimes controversial because it typically does not include Haitians and Belizians.

Latinx, a term that has been around since the early 2000s, is gaining some traction but is not for everyone. Latinx is a gender-neutral and non-binary answer to Latino/Latina. In a 2020 Pew Study, only 23 percent of people who self-identified as Hispanic had even heard of the term.

So, is there a correct or incorrect way to identify men and women who descend from Spanish-speaking countries? Some believe the best way is to simply ask them what their choice is. Also, knowing who your audience is can help.  Often age, region, and even class can play a role in how one wants to be identified.

Even the name Hispanic Heritage Month has fallen into the fray. Depending on the website and who’s running it you can find listings for Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx Heritage Month.

One thing is for certain, in North Texas there will be lots of opportunities to celebrate!  According to the latest population figures, Dallas Metro is currently 36.8% Mexican, 0.3% Puerto Rican, 0.2% Cuban, and 4.3% other Latino or Hispanic.

According to DallasCultureMap.com four DFW cities are among the best places for Hispanic entrepreneurs: Grand Prairie (No. 13) ranks highest in the area. Irving (No. 17), Fort Worth (No. 18), and Plano (No. 25) round out DFW’s presence at the top of the list.

Supporting independent businesses is always good, and National Hispanic Heritage Month is a perfect time to patronize a new or old establishment you haven’t tried.

If you’d like to join in the celebration, here’s a list of events, businesses, and experiences that you and your family might enjoy:

Murillo: From Heaven to Earth

Now through January 29th, – Recurring Daily

Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 76107

A special exhibition celebrating the genre paintings of one of the most celebrated painters of the Spanish Golden age:Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682). Approximately 50 works, explore themes of youth and age, comedy, romance, faith and charity, and much more. Paid admission. Please visit the link for more information.

An Afternoon with Dallas’s Poet Laureate, Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Thursday, September 29th, 12p

Student Union
800 W. Campbell Rd., Richardson, 75080

JZ poet is a spoken word artist and award-winning teacher eager to share his talent and heart with you, powered by life as he knew it in the barrio. For more information just tap the link.

La Gran Fiesta

Friday, September 30th, 5:30p – 7:30p

Clayton Community Center
610 Griggs Ave., Fort Worth, 76103

A Hispanic Heritage Celebration, promising dazzling entertainment, food, and art. Fun for the whole family, free admission. More information is provided in the link.

Cinema Con Nosotros 

Friday, September 30th, 9:00p • Sunday, October 2nd, 3:00p • Sunday, October 9th, 3:00p

The Texas Theatre
231 W. Jefferson Blvd., Dallas, 75208

#thegirlwhoworksattheboxoffice presents, this month-long cinema series celebrating the rich culture of Latin America through film. Tickets and information are detailed in the link.

Hispanic Heritage Month Festival

Saturday, October 1st, 10:00a – 1:00p

Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center
2922 MLK Boulevard, Dallas, 75215

This year, MLK Community Center is proud to host its first-ever, Hispanic Heritage festival. There will be live entertainment, activities for children, and local vendors. Admission is free. Live performances by: Ballet Folklórico Ollimpaxqui, Cristo Rey Dallas Aesthetic Literacy students, and a live Zumba demonstration by Ariana Zuniga. More details in the link.

Family Movie Night: Disney’s Encanto

Saturday, October 1st, 7:30p – 9:15p

Presented by Fort Worth Botanic Garden
3320 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth, 76107

Inviting you, your family, and friends to join them in their Horseshoe Garden for this epic event. Free admission, but space is limited. Go to the link for information on how to reserve your space.

Michelada Festival 2022

Sunday, October 9th, 12:00p – 8:30p

General Worth Square
916 Main St., Fort Worth, 76102

Enjoy live music, eats, treats, and micheladas. Family-friendly and dancing in the streets, two blocks starting at 9th & Main Street, Downtown Fort Worth. Free admission.

Hispanic Heritage – Points of Interest

Latino Cultural Center

2600 Live Oak at Good Latimer, Dallas, 75204

A City facility that artistically stages and represents the Latino community’s vivid culture. The Latino Cultural Center expresses its vision by offering facilities and opportunities that develop and celebrate their diverse, unique cultural talents and gifts. Be sure to check out Yanga and the AfroMexican Experience featuring a gallery devoted to Yanga, exploring this historical story with documents from the Archivo General de la Nacion (National Archives) in Mexico City and Archivo General de Indias (Archive of the Indies) in Seville, Spain.  Now Through October 15th

Don Artemio Restaurant

3268 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, 76107

Celebrating this month, and through mid-October, by featuring their traditional dish “Festival Del Chile En Nogada” – get more details by tapping on the link.

A Latin Inspired Weekend in Dallas

Celebrate with a guided tour using an itinerary via the link to create an adventure, routing you through the city of Dallas. Indulge in authentic cuisine, music, and art, immersing yourself in a vibrant world that is all about Hispanic Culture. Ongoing

The Law Offices of Houston M. Smith, P.C. has a bilingual staff serving the community 24/7 in personal injury cases, medical malpractice and car and truck wrecks. Safety is always important. As you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, please buckle up. Just remember, if you’re in a car or truck wreck anywhere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, the Law Offices of Houston, P.C. are here to serve you 24/7. Call 945-468-7866/ 945-HOU-STON.