Hispanic Heritage | St. Louis Public Radio

Hispanic Heritage

The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival celebrates its 25th year with the 2019 event.
Familia Barrera Foto & Video

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Begun in 1968 as a week-long recognition of the contributions of people with roots in Spanish-speaking countries, it was expanded to a month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

The starting date recognizes five Latin American countries that declared their independence on Sept. 15 and 16, 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16, 1810.

Tihara Mari rehearses with Grupo Atlantico at the home of founder Carmen Dence.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

When Carmen Dence was growing up in the Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia, she danced to cumbia, porros, gaitas and other traditional sounds of her country.

Dence left Colombia in 1969 to attend graduate school at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Nine years later, she and her husband moved to St. Louis, where she became a radiology professor at Washington University. But she never lost her passion for the music and dances of her homeland.