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'It's an opportunity to celebrate': Milwaukee leaders explain what Hispanic Heritage Month is all about

Hispanics and Latinos are the largest minority group in Wisconsin
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Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 18:53:35-04

MILWAUKEE — Hispanic Heritage Month started Sept. 15, and on Thursday, the city of Milwaukee kicked-off its annual celebration at the Beer Garden in the Deer District.

The event offered a plethora of activities honoring the Hispanic Community.

However, local leaders want people to really understand what the month means for so many people.

From the food to the music and the art scene, the Latino and Hispanic community in the state is huge.

According to the 2020 Census, the Hispanic/Latino population in Wisconsin rose by 7.6% in the last decade to more than 447,290 people - making Hispanics and Latinos the largest minority group in the state.

So, as the numbers continue to rise, community leaders in Milwaukee want people to take the time to learn about their neighbors, and what a better time than now as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

"Hispanic Heritage Month is a time where we recognize the contributions of the people from Spain and throughout the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces De La Frontera.

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She said it's not only about indulging in the food or dancing to the vibrant music, but understanding things such as why the events start in the middle of the month.

"It started in mid-September because that's when many countries in Latin America won their independence as a nation," Neumann-Ortiz said.

Neumann-Ortiz said this month allows community members to rub elbows with diverse small businesses and people they otherwise wouldn't encounter, and ultimately to learn something new.

"Our history is long, and so it is good to know that history and to understand the struggles today," Neumann-Ortiz said. "It's an opportunity to both celebrate and also talk about the changes that are still needed to really bring about justice."

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In her opinion, some of those changes would involve immigration reform and easier access to driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Neumann-Ortiz said her organization will be celebrating 20 years of the struggle for federal immigration reform, and honoring the unsung heroes within the community.

The gala will be at the American Serb Hall in Milwaukee and will start at 5 p.m. and run until a little before 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, Milwaukeeans can attend various events happening throughout this month starting at the Deer District.

District 8 Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa is co-hosting Milwaukee's event at the Deer District. The event goes from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.

"We want other folks to come and meet us, and to see that we want to be a part of this growing community," Zamarripa said.

For a list of events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in Milwaukee, click here.

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