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Hispanic Heritage Is Celebrated In Albany

National Hispanic Heritage Month is wrapping up this week with two Albany events.

Culture, family and community are the focus of Hispanic Heritage Month. The observation began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Then, in 1988, President Reagan ordered it expanded to a 30-day timeframe.

"The 30 days between September 15th and October 15th are celebrated as Hispanic Heritage because many of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were freed from Spanish rule during that period." ~ Dan Irizarry, Chairman of the Board of Capital District Latinos.

Dan Irizarry is Chairman of the Board of Capital District Latinos.   "It really is an opportunity for the nation to celebrate the rich heritage that is Hispanic culture. Of course, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean there was a revolution against Spain, and, little by little countries gained their independence from Spain, and so the 30 days between September 15th and October 15th are celebrated as Hispanic Heritage because many of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were freed from Spanish rule during that period."

The end days of Hispanic Heritage Month include "Indigenous People's Day," held on the federal Columbus Day holiday.    "We're going to be celebrating a tradition that was very popular in Europe, especially in Spain, which is called Tarde de tertulia. Tarde de tertulia really is Spanish for a salon which was very famous throughout Europe where people would gather, artists, people with political views, the intelligentsia of the time, would gather these events, and would hold forth about topics of the day or sing songs or recite poetry. So it's very free and it's very open and we'd like people to come with works about indigenous people and their history and their influence on the culture of Latin America."

Irizarry says the celebration from 5-7 will include poetry, song and refreshments.

Capital District Latinos' regional director Mickey Jimenez says the focus will be on health in the Hispanic community at Tuesday’s event, starting at 2.  "This forum will be a place for Capital District Latinos to review some of the work that we've done to identify most of the important social determinants of health in our community, as well as ways to address health disparities to produce better health outcomes."

Jimenez says the work was conducted through a state grant from the New York State Department of Health, the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention.  Among the most outstanding health concerns occurring within the Hispanic Community are:   "Diabetes and cardiovascular. So we are now following a core of about 20 to 25 Latinos which consist of both women and men over the age of 18, and with our partners we have been able to, and we're gonna be providing some data, check on their vital signs, weight, cholesterol, blood glucose, and in addition have ways of them looking at eating better, living better, in order for them to treat and if they do have a precursor to diabetes, how would they lessen that and how could they start putting some safety nets in place in order for them to be living a better life, and a lot of that has to do with diet."

Both events take place at Capital District LATINOS Cultural Empowerment & Community Engagement Center, 160 Central Avenue in Albany.

BONUS AUDIO: Laudelina Martinez is the owner and director of Martinez Gallery, founded in 2001 in Troy, NY. She tells WAMC about a fundraiser with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for scholarships coming up on October 23rd.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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