According to the Pew Research Center, there are more than 20 Hispanic origin groups in the United States. While many of these groups may share a similar language, they may be very different in traditions, history, values, cultures.
Leticia Gassaway, chairperson of El Centro in Tupelo, noted the term "Hispanic" is not homogeneous; it includes members of white, Black, brown and Asian racial backgrounds.
With approximately 100% of El Centro's students U.S. born, Hispanic Heritage Month takes on additional importance because it allows a time to cultivate culture and celebrate family traditions. Besides sharing the Spanish language and traditional dishes daily, the month allows Hispanic families to introduce other people to their culture in the form of dances, singing, and participation in local celebrations.
“What is so important for the group that I work with is the importance, the emphasis of family. These families are close knit,” Gassaway said. “They never think of each other individually. It’s always what are we going to do for la familia, how are we going to move forward together.”