Celebrating the Contributions of Hispanic Americans in Southeast Missouri

Sep 8, 2017

Sept. 15 marks the start of National Hispanic Heritage month. Shared between two months, it celebrates the contributions of Hispanic Americans. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, a professor of Spanish in the department of modern languages, anthropology and geography at Southeast Missouri State University tells us about it and what activities you can look forward to in Cape Girardeau.


On what Hispanic Heritage month is

Lee-DiStefano:  Hispanic Heritage month actually started out as a day and then it went into a week. Eventually, I think it was under Ronald Reagan that it became a month. It is essentially to recognize the contributions that people of Hispanic Heritage, and I use Hispanic because that's the census word. And we are particularly referring to people who have a background where Spanish was spoken, to the contributions that they have had to the development of the United States as a nation.

On Hispanic Americans contributions in Southeast Missouri

Lee-DiStefano: I think if we look at agriculture in particular I would say is fairly heavily based in migrant labor and with documented labor as well. So you have the migrant labor and then you have the documented labor. If you look at our restaurants we have numerous Mexican restaurants here in town. We have many businesses that have Latino ownership. If you look at the history of our region, I like to point out that it was a Spaniard Hernando de Soto that was the first European to step foot in this region whenever he was doing his exploration. At one point for about 40 years from like 1763 to about 1801 that this territory was under Spanish rule, because it was seated back to Spain and that's how we get New Madrid. If you look along the Mississippi River, you'll still see a lot of Spanish names or towns that are leftover from that time period.

Here are a list of events:

What: Tacos at Twilight

When : Sept. 17, 2017 5-8 p.m. 

Where: Capaha Park Pavilion 3



Who: Speaker Ann Kaneko

What: Japanese Exclusion

When: Sept. 22, 2017 3 p.m.

Where: University Ballroom in the University Center at the Southeast Missouri State University campus


Who: Speaker Rudy Guevarra

What: “Mexipinos”

When: Sept. 22, 2017    5 p.m.

Where: University Ballroom in the University Center at the Southeast Missouri State University campus


Credit Photo Credit: Arizona State University

Who: Speaker Alexis Engelhart

What: Spanish and medical brigades

When: Sept. 27, 2017 12 p.m.

Where: Sadie’s Place in Kent Library at the Southeast Missouri State University campus


Who: Speaker Jorge Riopedre

What: La Casa de Salud

When: Oct. 3, 2017 3 p.m.

Where: Glenn Auditorium in Dempster Hall at the Southeast Missouri State University campus