Hispanic Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of of more than 60 million Hispanic Americans, Latinos, Latinas, and Latinx-identifying people with roots in Spain, Mexico the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

In September 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15. In President Johnson’s proclamation, it was made known that September 15 marked the independence from Spain for 5 countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. On September 16 and 18, Mexico and Chile celebrate their dia de independencia. In 1968, National Hispanic Heritage Month was extended to cover 30 days to include el Dia de la Raza, which is celebrated on October 12.

This year's theme is “Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America."


Mati Bazurto 

Mati Bazurto currently holds the position of Director of Business Operations at the City of Bowie, where she is responsible for overseeing crucial administrative tasks, including the resolution of unique and sensitive issues. Prior to joining the City's team, Mati served as the Chairperson for the Green Team and played a key role in developing the City's Sustainability Plan. Before her tenure with the City of Bowie, Mati worked as the Director of Membership and Program Services at the Latino Federation of Greater Washington (LFGW). Preceding her role at LFGW, she served as the Legislative Aide to Maryland Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez. Throughout her career, spanning over two decades, Mati has been a dedicated grassroots activist, advocating for civil rights, environmental protection, and both child and adult literacy.

She actively contributed to various organizations and initiatives, including the Council of Latino Agencies' Board of Directors, the Latino Civil Rights Task Force, and the Latino Congressional Advisory Committee under Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton. Mati's remarkable dedication to the Latino community earned her recognition and honors from the U.S. Congress in 2009.

Mati holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts degree in International Political Science from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana.

José Moreno Hernández

220px-Jose_Hernandez_v2José Hernández was born on August 7, 1962, in French Camp, California. His parents Salvador and Julia were Mexican immigrant migrant workers. Each March, Hernández, the youngest of four children, journeyed with his family from Michoacán, Mexico, to Southern California. Picking crops as they traveled, the family would then proceed north to Stockton, California. When Christmas approached, the family would head back to Mexico before returning to the U.S. in the spring. In school, Hernández enjoyed math and science. He decided he wanted to be an astronaut after watching the Apollo spacewalks on television. Hernández was also drawn to the profession in 1980, when he found out that NASA had picked Costa Rican native Franklin Chang-Diaz, one of the first Hispanics to journey into space, as an astronaut. Hernández said in a NASA interview that he, then a high school senior, still remembers the moment he heard the news. After he finished high school, Hernández studied electrical engineering at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. From there, he pursued graduate studies in engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Hernández followed his groundbreaking work at Lawrence Laboratory by closing in on his dream of becoming an astronaut. In 2001, he signed on as a NASA materials research engineer at Houston’s Johnson Space Center, helping with Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions. He went on to serve as the Materials and Processes Branch chief in 2002, a role he filled until NASA selected him for its space program in 2004. After applying for 12 straight years to enter the program, Hernández was at long last headed to space. After undergoing physiological, flight, and water and wilderness survival training as well as training on Shuttle and International Space Station systems, Hernández completed Astronaut Candidate Training in February 2006. Three-and-a-half years later, Hernández journeyed on the STS-128 shuttle mission, during which he oversaw the transfer of more than 18,000 pounds of equipment between the shuttle and the International Space Station and helped with robotics operations, according to NASA. The STS-128 mission traveled more than 5.7 million miles in just under two weeks.

Joan Baez


Joan Baez is a Grammy award-winning folk singer and activist. She was born on January 9, 1941, in Staten Island, New York, in a Quaker household. Her father, Albert V. Baez, was a physicist who came to the United States from Mexico at a very early age, and her mother was of Western European descent from Scotland.  Her family eventually relocated to the Southern California area.  

Baez got her big break via an appearance at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival when she was invited onstage by singer/guitarist Bob Gibson. Baez often used her music to express her social and political views. As the 1960s progressed, she became more politically active. She participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights and recorded a song ‘Birmingham Sunday” (1964) about the murder of four African-American girls in the bombing of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. She supported the ideals of non-violent resistance as proposed by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. In 1965, she founded the Institute for the Study of Non-violence. In California, she stood in the fields with Cesar Chavez to support his protest for Latino farmworkers.

Baez was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Baez released Day After Tomorrow, her 24th studio album, in 2008.

Dennis Chavez

New Mexico SenatorSenator Dennis Chavez, who represented the state of New Mexico for 27 years in the U.S. Senate, was the first American-born Hispanic senator. Chavez quit school at the age of 13 in order to help support his impoverished family. He continued his education independently, however, and eventually gained admission to Georgetown University Law School. From his early years in the state legislature, where he introduced legislation providing free textbooks for public school children, Chavez was dedicated to defending the oppressed. As a senator, he introduced many civil rights reform bills such as the Fair Employment Practices Commission Bill that sought to end racial discrimination in the workplace. In 1950 he was one of the first in the Senate to denounce the anticommunist actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. New Mexico has honored him with a statue, which is on display in the U.S. Capitol.

Chavez earned the nickname "Puerto Rico's Senator" in 1942 when he started an investigation into the causes of poor social and economic conditions in Puerto Rico. His support of a bill to improve living conditions and attract industry to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands was important in helping it pass when it was put to a vote in the Senate. He also attracted national attention during his long fight for the creation of a federal Fair Employment Practices Commission. The bill was designed to protect workers from discrimination (unequal treatment) on the basis of race, religion, or national origin by employers or labor unions doing governmental work. The bill was eventually defeated in 1946—by only an eight-vote margin.

Dennis Chavez was the only national Hispanic American elected official of his time. He worked tirelessly to further the interests of the state of New Mexico and is credited for bringing significant amounts of federal funding as well as key military bases to the state. Chavez died in Washington, D.C., of a heart attack on November 18, 1962, at the age of seventy-four.

Aja Monet

Aja MonetAja Monet is a multi-talented artist known for her work as a poet, dedicated activist, and musician.  In 2018, she received a nomination for the NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry. Notably, she was a featured speaker at the Women's March on Washington, where she recited the title poem from her 2017 book, "My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter." Monet has authored several other books, including "Inner-City Chants and Cyborg Cyphers" in 2015 and "The Black Unicorn Sings" in 2010.

Aja Monet made history by becoming the youngest individual to win the Nuyorican Poets Café grand slam title. Her performances have taken her around the world, including appearances in countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bermuda, and Cuba. Her commitment to education as a means of empowerment is evident through her role as a teaching artist for organizations like Urban Word NYC and the Urban Arts Partnership.

Aja Monet, of Cuban and Jamaican heritage, hails from Brooklyn, where she was born and raised. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she earned the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry, an award recognizing undergraduate students whose poetic work effectively explores relationships among women, particularly in the context of justice for all. She furthered her education by earning an MFA in creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut

gallery-th-faragutAdmiral David Glasgow Farragut devoted his life to service in the United States Navy. The son of a Spanish-American immigrant and Revolutionary War veteran, Farragut himself was a Civil War hero remembered for his bravery at the Battle of Mobile Bay. David Farragut was born James Glasgow Farragut to George (Jorge) Farragut and Elizabeth Shine Farragut on July 5, 1801. His father, merchant seaman Jorge Antonio Farragut-Mesquida, was born on the Spanish island Minorca in 1755. Jorge and David Farragut are descendants of conquistador Don Pedro Farragut who served the King of Aragon, a realm that included eastern Spain, during the 13th century. For Pedro Farragut’s efforts in the wars to retake land settled by Moors in the western Mediterranean, the king of Spain gave the prominent Farragut family a title and estates on Minorca.

As a captain in the United State Navy living in Norfolk, Virginia, Farragut had to choose a side quickly at the start of the Civil War. Though he spent his early years in the South and maintained a home in Virginia, Farragut was loyal to the Union and to the U.S. Navy. In 1861, the Farraguts fled Virginia and settled in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, as refugees. Farragut waited there for orders from the Navy Department. Farragut’s move to New York caught the attention of the Union Secretary of the Navy, who was searching for an officer to command an assault on New Orleans. Under Farragut’s leadership, the United States Navy took New Orleans and surrounding Confederate forts in the spring of 1862. This victory boosted moral in the North and propelled Farragut into the public spotlight. Soon after the battle, Congress created the new rank of rear admiral in order to promote Farragut, who became the first man to hold that rank in the United States Navy.

Farragut is perhaps most famous for his victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864, where he led his fleet through a field of “torpedoes,” submerged explosives, while they took Confederate fire from the shore. According to Loyall Farragut’s David Farragut biography, as the fleet moved through the bay the admiral knew it was too late to turn back, so he shouted, “Damn the torpedoes! Four bells! Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!” The Union fleet lost one ironclad ship to the explosives, the USS Tecumseh, and 335 men, but Farragut took Fort Morgan and secured the blockade.

Jamie Escalante

jaime-escalanteJaime Alfonso Escalante Gutiérrez was a Bolivian-American educator known for teaching "unteachable" students calculus from 1974 to 1991 at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, a rundown school known for violence and drugs. Escalante was the subject of the 1988 film "Stand and Deliver."

In 1982, Escalante's largest class of students took and passed an advanced placement test in Calculus. Some of the students' test scores were invalidated by the testing company because it believed that the students had cheated. Escalante protested, saying that the students had been disqualified because they were Hispanic and from a poor school. A few months later many of the students retook the test and passed, proving that they knew the material and that the company was wrong.

Escalante retired from teaching in 1998. He received many awards for his contributions to the field of education, including the Presidential Medal for Excellence. He was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999. Escalante died in March 2010 after a long struggle with cancer.

Recommended Books

The Prince George's County Memorial Library Systems (PGCMLS) is also celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with book recommendations for all ages. Here's a sneak peak of some of the educational and entertaining books they're recommending. Want to see the full list? Visit the PGCMLS Hispanic Heritage Month page for books, online exhibits, events, and more. 


The Taste of Sugar
Once I was you A Memoir of Love and Hate in a Torn America
In the Country we Love
When I was Puerto Rican A Memoir
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
The Undocumented Americans


Living Beyon Borders Growing Up Mexican in America
One Hundred Years of Solitude
The House of Broken Angels
Mexican Gothic
Clap When you Land


Just Ask
My Name is Celia The Life of Celia Cruz
The Dreamer
Turning Pages
Not so Different Book
  1. Events
  2. Resources

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrations

Bowie Hispanic Heritage Month Food and Movie Night  
Saturday, September 30, 5 – 7 p.m.  (Food) and 7 - 9 p.m. (Movie)
Bowie City Gymnasium  

Join the City of Bowie Diversity Committee to honor Hispanic Heritage Month.  The food will include traditional dishes like empanadas and tres leches, courtesy of JJ Craving, available from 5 - 7 p.m. The movie 'A Million Miles Away', a biopic of José Hernández, a NASA engineer and former farm worker, will also be screened.  People planning to attend should note that chairs will not be permitted in the gymnasium, and are advised to bring blankets for floor seating or sit in the bleachers. 

La Marvela: Afro-Indigenous music from the coast of Colombia and Puerto Rico
Sunday, October 7, 1 - 2 p.m. 
Bowie Public Library 

Experience the captivating rhythms of La Marvela, an extraordinary all-women music band showcasing the rich heritage of the Colombian Caribbean region. With influences rooted in African, Indigenous, and European traditions, La Marvela creates a space to honor ancestral music from a female perspective.

Latinas in Aviation 
Saturday, October 14, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.  
College Park Aviation Museum and Airport 

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, join the M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation’s College Park Aviation Museum and Airport, as we honor Latinas in aviation. Watch as pilots featured in the Latinas in Aviation book fly into the College Park Airport and share their unique experiences and passion for aviation. This one-of-a-kind event gives you the opportunity to meet and hear from contributing authors while learning about the magic of aviation. Explore static aircraft displays interactives, presentations, children’s activities, mentorship circles, and scholarship opportunities throughout the event.