Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined members of the City Council, hundreds of city residents including celebrities, business and community leaders to officially kick-off Latino Heritage Month. The Mayor recognized three honorees: Sal Castro, Cesar Millan and Fernando Valenzuela. The 2011 Latino Heritage Month is themed “Celebrating a Culture of Hope and Progress.”
“These three remarkable honorees and their achievements reflect the Latino community’s values of pride, sacrifice, and hope for the future, “ Mayor Villaraigosa said. “A community as rich and diverse as Los Angeles itself, Latinos through their contributions have been and will remain essential to the spirit and success of our great City.”
Latino Heritage Month not only celebrates the rich diversity of Latino cultures, traditions and contributions, but also honors three outstanding individuals of Latino descent who have contributed to the advancement of Latinos in the United States and internationally. This year’s honorees are:
Salvador Castro , a Mexican American educator and activist who is known for his role in the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, which brought awareness to unequal conditions in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools;
Cesar Millán , a world-renowned dog behavior specialist and best-selling author who is widely known for his television series “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” on National Geographic WILD; and
Fernándo Valenzuela, the emergency starter for the LA Dodgers on Opening Day 1981, who led the team to the World Championship that year, and became the first player in Major League history to be named Rookie of the Year, and win a Cy Young in the same season.
The Opening Ceremonies featured live entertainment on the South Lawn and performances by Palenke Soultribe, Capoeira Brasil, and Alicia Juarez and the L.A. Mariachi. Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled the 2011 Latino Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide, produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs.
Event and media sponsors included Time Warner Cable, ABC 7, Media Image PR, Wells Fargo, Disney, The Nielsen Company, Fox Deportes, Univision Radio, Portos/Gavina Coffee and Fox Audience Strategies.
Latino Heritage Month launches a month-long calendar of cultural events, arts activities, and free music classes for elementary, middle, and high school students presented by the City of Los Angeles and the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) through its Music LA Program. A poster contest is open to all Los Angeles County students (grades K-12) that encourages the creation of original artwork based on their interpretation of the 2011 Latino Heritage Month’s theme. Poster competition winners will be announced on Thursday, September 29, 2011.
A list of all activities and events is available at www.culturela.org. For more information, call (213) 922-9762, or follow the Heritage month page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HeritageLA.
About Latino Heritage Month
In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to designate the week of September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The week would commemorate the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua on September 15, Mexico’s independence on September 16, and Chile’s independence on September 18.
In 1988, the observance was extended to a month-long celebration, from September 15 to October 15 to honor the cultures and traditions of Americans with heritage tied to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.