Israel Cuenca '18,'21 is a community leader, founder of the Latin Music Awards Kentucky, a digital marketing professional, media contributor, and musician. He holds an MBA and MSDM from Bellarmine and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Leadership in Higher Ed while working as Graduate Assistant in Bellarmine's Office of Identity and Inclusion.
Q: What is Hispanic Heritage Month and why is it celebrated?
Hispanic Heritage Month is the celebration of histories, cultures, and contributions of the Latinx community in the U.S.
It actually started as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, when a piece of legislation drafted by Hispano New-Mexican Rep. Edward Roybal was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.
The observation was later expanded to a full month through the efforts of California Rep. Esteban Edward Torres with support from President Ronald Reagan. It was enacted into law on August
Today, Hispanic Heritage month is observed from September 15 to October 15. September 15 is a significant date because it marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is observed as Mexico’s Independence
Day. Most Central American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, celebrate their independence from Spain on September 16. Chileans celebrate their Independence Day
on September 18.
In addition, the second Monday in October has historically been recognized in the U.S. as Columbus Day, a commemoration of Christopher Columbus’ October 12 arrival in the Americas. This
date has different names in various Latin American countries, most commonly “Día de la Raza” or “Day of the Race,” and in many municipalities, states and countries across the Americas, October 12 and Columbus Day
observations are being accompanied or replaced by celebrations that recognize indigenous populations.
Q: How do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage month?
Bellarmine’s Office of Identity and Inclusion organized numerous events to connect our students, faculty, staff, and community and to provide opportunities to celebrate and learn more about Hispanic
culture in the U.S.
Outside of campus, I personally put together the Latin Music Awards Kentucky which took place on Friday, September 17 at Fourth Street Live. This multicultural
event recognizes the music contributions of Latin artists in Kentucky. We gave six partial scholarships to six Latinx students and partnered with regional and national organizations and media outlets. Over
700 people participated that night, and for me it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Hispanic culture in Kentucky.
Q: How can our campus community celebrate?
Attend any of the events that OII and other organizations are hosting! We have everything--from student-centered conversations about Latinx community to dancing to a panel of Hispanic community leaders. There's
also a Registered Student Organization (RSO) where Latinx and Hispanic students can get involved: the Bellarmine Latinx and Hispanic Union (BLHU).
I also suggest watching documentaries or listening to podcasts about Hispanic Heritage Month and to learn more about the contributions of the Latinx community in the U.S. You can also check out other
events in the city, there are so many events that different organizations have planned throughout the city to celebrate HHM.
Note: While many of the OII's Hispanic Heritage Month events have passed, Israel will be facilitating a conversation on Friday, Oct 15th at 11:30am in the OII classroom. The topic is "Latino or Latinx? The Journey of Self-Identity Culture."
Q: Are there any resources you'd like to share for people who want to learn more?
There’s no shortage of sources where you can learn more about Hispanic and Latinx history, culture, and contributions. Whether you want to watch a documentary or get involved with a local organization, the first
step is usually a Google search.
Here are some links that might be helpful for learning about Hispanic Heritage Month:
Q: What are your hopes for Bellarmine's Hispanic/Latinx students and employees this year and in the future?
I hope we can all recognize and embrace the amazing contributions that Latinos have made in this country. We have so much to celebrate, remember and learn from. We should feel proud of our histories and cultures
and see the future with optimism, full of great opportunities to learn about each other and ourselves.