Celebrate Latino Culture During Hispanic Heritage Month
The next 30 days are an opportunity for Greater Des Moines (DSM) residents to recognize and celebrate those in our community who are of Hispanic descent or who have left their homes in Spain, Mexico, Central or South America, or any of the Spanish-speaking nations in the Caribbean Sea to make a home in Iowa.
Celebrating Latino Culture
In Iowa, we have a rich Hispanic history to celebrate. More than 194,500 Latinos from 22 Latino nations call Iowa home. Latinos represent 6.2% of the state’s total population, according to the State Data Center of Iowa. Nationally, the U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 60.6 million Hispanics living in the United States as of July 1, 2019, making us the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority with 18.5% of the total U.S. population.
Besides our food and our culture, we contribute to the economic vitality of the state. We own close to 5,000 businesses in the state, and 23% of Latinos in Iowa work in service occupations. We’re willing to work: 75% of Latinos 16 and older work compared to 67% of the state’s overall workforce. Yet, we fall behind when it comes to earnings. The 2018 median earning for a Hispanic in Iowa was $27,214, well below the median earning statewide of $34,583.
Through the work of Latino Resources Inc., which organizes Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival, we hope to bring more attention to the value of our community. Each year, we give away thousands of dollars in academic scholarships to Latinos who are enrolled in post-secondary education. We also recognized Latino business owners and community members who support and uplift their community.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins today and is a chance for all of us to celebrate and come together. This historic day marks the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence during the month on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Hispanic Heritage Month runs through Thursday, October 15.
Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival in 2020
Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival typically falls during this time period. It began about 20 years ago and has grown as the state’s Latino population has soared. This year’s celebration will take place virtually on Sunday, October 4 via Facebook Live on Iowa’s Latino Heritage Festival’s Facebook page.
Specific times for events will be announced the week leading up to the virtual festival, but events include a cooking demonstration with authentic dishes from Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico; Latino dance lessons; cultural exhibits from some of the 22 countries in Latin America; and the announcement of five scholarship recipients.
We hope Iowans from across the state will join us for this special event and the opportunity to experience Latin American culture and history. Typically, more than 10,000 people from across Iowa come together to celebration culture and history during the two-day festival, but we have an opportunity to make that audience even bigger with a virtual event.
Please join us on October 4.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.
Joe Gonzalez is a retired member of the Des Moines Police Department where he was a 42-year member and a vital liaison in the department's outreach to the Hispanic/Latino community. Gonzalez was a longtime volunteer for Iowa's Latino Heritage Festival before he took over the reins of the festival as the executive director of Latino Resources Inc. in 2015.