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Cool Things to do in DC for Hispanic Heritage Month

September is finally here! Which of course means crazy Labor Day weekend parties, seeing all of your friends again on campus, and tailgate season, but it also means Hispanic Heritage Month! Lasting from September 15th to October 15th, the month exists to celebrate and pay tribute to the history, culture, contributions, and achievements of American citizens who are descendants of those from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The celebration originally started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson, but was later expanded by President Reagan in 1988 to cover a month-long period. The start date of September 15th is especially significant because it is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. From the arts to civil rights, the sacrifices and contributions of Hispanic Americans are observable in every facet of American society–and they deserve to be celebrated. So here are five cool and local ways to learn about and pay tribute to the amazing Hispanic/Latin Americans who have altered our lives for the better. 

Fiesta DC 

Come celebrate the historic month with DC’s 50th annual Fiesta DC parade and festival. Spanning from September 24th-25th, the celebration is jam packed with activities for all ages to enjoy. The celebration will include a parade of nations, a children’s festival, beauty pageant, science fair, arts and crafts, live music and entertainment, representatives from various embassies and consulates, as well as traditional food. The best part? It’s completely free and open to the public. 

!Presente!: A Latino History of the United States

Stop by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to view the brand new exhibit !Presente!: A Latino History of the United States. The exhibition chronologs U.S. history entirely from the perspective of Latinos who lived it and highlights forgotten and unsung stories, connects museumgoers with Latino history and culture, and demonstrates the impact Latinos have had in shaping U.S. history and culture. Located in the Molina Family Latino Gallery, the first gallery from the forthcoming National Museum of the American Latino, the exhibition will be available for viewing indefinitely. Admission is free and open to the public!

Mexican Geniuses: A Frida and Diego Immersive Experience 

Celebrate and revel in the works of renowned Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at The Mexican Geniuses: A Frida and Diego Immersive Experience. Arguably two of the most prominent and forefront artists of the 20th century, Rivera, a central figure in the Mexican mural movement, and Kahlo, best known for her self-portraits, showcased Mexican ideals and culture to the world whilst exploring complex social and political happenings in their works. Their work tackled a wide array of topics including post-revolution Mexico, communism, indigenous life, sexuality, infidelity, disability, social equality, colonialism, and much more through the lenses of surrealism and magical realism. Explore these artists’ lives and creations through exhibits including an immersive room featuring over 300 wall-high projections, a virtual reality world inspired by their work and the Day of the Dead, and recreations and displays of paintings and personal artifacts. The experience is open from now until mid-October and tickets range from $23-$44, with discounts for students. 

Revoltosa (The Troublemaker), GALA Hispanic Theatre 

Head on over to GALA Hispanic Theatre, a National Center for Latino Performing Arts in Columbia Heights, DC for a showing of “Revoltosa”. Based on the text by J. Lopez Silva and C. Fernandez Shaw with original music by Ruperto Chapí, the zarzuela (a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes), follows the story of “an outspoken woman who upturns traditions with her neighbors and delights in exposing social hypocrisies” (GALA). At its center, the show is about love and explores the varying perspectives of men and women at different stages of love in their life—from fledging first romances to long-married couples through a cultural perspective. Although the show is entirely in Spanish, there are English subtitles, and the themes are universal and sure to resonate with audiences of all backgrounds. Tickets start at $25, with discounts for students.

Chuco Valdés presents “La Creación”, The Kennedy Center 

Come enjoy the sounds of renowned Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdes as he presents “La Creacion” with the Yoruban Orchestra. The bold new work explores the story of creation according to the Regla de Ocha and features an amalgamation of sounds including Afro Cuban percussion and vocals, Santeria ritual music, African music, and the blues. Tickets start at $39, but generous discounts are sometimes available for select performances through the Kennedy Center’s MyTix program. 

Sophomore political science and international affairs major at Howard University from PG County, Maryland writing on all things political, cultural, and black!
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