Hispanic Heritage Month showcases rich cultural contributions

Written by on September 15, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month showcases rich cultural contributions

By Genesis Ortega

September 15, 2021

Rolled up flags from latin countries sit along a wall before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. The League is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15,  and represents Independence Day for a number of Spanish-speaking countries. The month-long celebration brings together the cultures and contributions of people living in the U.S. who have roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

 

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This month is even more significant in places like Allentown where more than 50% of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. That number is 26% for Lehigh County, which is the highest of any county in the state.

Erika M. Sutherland is an associate professor of Spanish at Muhlenberg College as well as the chair of its Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. She has observed the community for 25 years. 

“There’s a real sense of business vitality. A lot of the new immigrants are entrepreneurs. They come here and they start a business or they start a church. And it’s clearly in Spanish,” she said. 

Sutherland said the language isn’t the only thing that enriches the community. 

“Allentown is a much better place because of its Hispanic immigrant community. It’s a more interesting city, it’s a more vibrant city. It’s definitely a tastier city,” she said. 

Sutherland noted the growing diversity in restaurants on 7th Street in Allentown as an example.

“When we first came here, there was one Mexican restaurant and multiple Puerto Rican restaurants. When you go down 7th Street now, many of the restaurants that there are from all over the Hispanic world,” she said. 

Now there are Dominican, Colombian, and Venezuelan restaurants. So that diversity is one of the most visible ways the city has grown. 

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is presenting “Semana de Sabor” or Restaurant Week Sept. 15-21. 

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