LEXINGTON, N.C. – Two North Carolina cities are formally recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month for the first time.
The tradition began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week, and became an entire month of recognition 20 years later.
On Monday, the Lexington City Council issued its own proclamation. Lexington’s diversity, equity and inclusion officer Patricia Smyre said it was past time to publicly recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as a city.
“I think the banners and the proclamation will send a direct signal, just as it did with Black history banners, that we value and appreciate the diversity that we have in our community. Our community is better because of the values we have toward diversity, equity and inclusion,” Smyre said.
She worked with the Latino Association of Davidson County, a nonprofit that aims to help the local Hispanic community build a support system, know their resources and realize their value. Founder and president Atalia Cardenas said Smyre approached them with the idea over the summer. It opened the door to a historic occasion.
“They are now recognizing for the first time that we are part of the community, that we are not a separate community,” Cardenas said. “It also goes into their historic files that for the first time, there will be a document in Spanish in the city files that takes care of this… recognizing the importance of this event.”
The Latino association’s project coordinator, Jennifer Rivera, read the proclamation in Spanish for all of Lexington to see. She hopes it will inspire others to recognize their value and work with them to make positive changes.
“Once people see that all these things are possible, they’ll want to take the jump with us, too,” Rivera said.
The city of Thomasville will also formally recognize Hispanic Heritage Month for the first time with a proclamation on Monday.
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