Art, food, festivals, and more in the Mitten: National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
MICHIGAN—National Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated across the US every year since the late 80s to recognize the contributions and influence that Hispanic Americans have had nationwide—including right here in Michigan, which is a pretty special place for Hispanic history and culture.
That’s because Hispanic American history in Michigan runs pretty deep. From as early as 1915, many Hispanic people migrated to Michigan during the Industrial Revolution—settling into cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids to attain a better quality of life in pursuit of the fabled The American Dream.
And again this year, National Hispanic Heritage Month—which goes from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15—will be honored, celebrated, and acknowledged in many communities across the state through art, film, authentic dishes, and various educational efforts.
Here are eight ways to celebrate the month in Michigan:
Learn about Hispanic art.
Michigan is home to one of the most renowned murals in the world—created by one of Mexico’s most prominent painters: the Detroit Industry Mural by Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It consists of 27 fresco panels depicting an iconic scene from a Ford Motor Co. assembly line. Take a few hours (or a whole day) to check out the museum and study his captivating work.
Enjoy authentic Mexican food.
Michigan is pretty far from Mexico—but that doesn’t mean the Mitten can’t keep up with the best of them in terms of authentic Mexican cuisine, even way up at the tip of the Upper Peninsula.
One worth trying: Sol Azteca Mexican Restaurant in Marquette, with some great lakeside views.
Also: We’d be remiss not to mention a special National Hispanic Month restaurant week in Grand Haven from Sept. 19-24, which runs concurrently with its big Hispanic Heritage Fiesta.
Give back to the community.
There are many ways to support the Latinx community this year: including donating to nonprofits, volunteering, and shopping locally. Many family-owned businesses are located in Mexicantown in southwest Detroit—home to Michigan’s largest Hispanic population.
E & L Supermercado is worth a stop for some fresh produce and some of the best-marinated meats in the area. Volunteering at the local schools (particularly in Southwest Detroit) is another great way to give back directly to the Hispanic community here in Michigan. The schools always need volunteers to help both during the school day and for various extracurricular activities.
Move your hips.
Celebration is all about dance, and the largest Salsa social in the Metro Detroit Area arrives on Sept. 25—just in time for the holidays. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an experienced dancer. Just come out, have fun, and soak in the music at one of the biggest parties in Michigan.
Learn the history of Mexican Independence Day.
The city of Lansing is hosting an event on Sept. 16 to celebrate Mexican Independence Day called ¡Viva Mexico!. Also in Lansing: Sept. 21 is Michigan Latino Legislative Day. There will be conversations on issues impacting the Hispanic/Latinx communities during both events. The community will also get a chance to meet directly with state legislators to discuss their priorities.
Read Hispanic literature.
Reading Hispanic authors and getting familiar with their work is a window into Hispanic heritage month. To get started, Central Michigan University has some excellent resources for getting familiar with Spanish literature. The Grand Rapids Public Library is another excellent hub for information on the subject—including at its famous day-long Dia de Los Muertos Festival.
Watch Hispanic films.
It’s not just books. Countless Hispanic film showings and festivals will be connected to month-long celebrations throughout the Mitten, too. WKAR Media, located on the campus of Michigan State University, will have a special screening of A Song for Cesar (about Civil Rights Leader Cesar Chavez and his legacy) at 7 p.m. on Oct. 13, followed by Q&A with the filmmakers Abel Sanchez and Andres Algeria. RSVP before the screening—right here.
Caught up on history and the significance of the month?
Now it’s time to celebrate: