SALT LAKE CITY — National Hispanic Heritage Month began in September, and Saturday at the Gateway in Salt Lake City, the community held a special cultural event to wrap up the month-long celebration.
"It definitely brings us all back together," said Jessica Corral, a member of the Latina Social Club, a group dedicated to bringing together Latinas from all over the state of Utah. "It just kind of reminds us of what's important and that we all still are a community."
The event featured food, dancers, artists and musicians to highlight different cultures from all over Latin America.
"The mission is really to bring the community together and expose Salt Lake City and Utah to Hispanic heritage and culture," said Jessica Gonzalez-Viviano, organizer of the event and member of the Latina Social Club.
Ana Morales, founder of the dance group Danza y Color, who performed at today's event, said it also provides Hispanic and Latinx people born in the U.S. a chance to reconnect with their culture.
"Just listening to the music makes them happy, makes them excited," Morales said.
The event came at a great time for people in the community, as the pandemic has hit the Utah's Hispanic and Latinx populations especially hard.
"We're all just trying to navigate this the best that we can," Gonzalez-Viviano added. "Everyone is having their own COVID experience."
According to the state's COVD-19 dashboard, Hispanic and Latinx people account for over 30 percent of the total cases in the state, despite making up only 14 percent of the population.
According to data recently released by Congress' Joint Economic Committee, unemployment for Hispanics nationwide hit 18.9 percent in April at the start of the pandemic. It dropped back down to 10.5 percent in August, which was higher than the peak unemployment rate for all U.S. workers during the 2008 Great Recession.
"The fact that we can still put on an event, celebrate our culture and heritage, and come together as a community to learn, dance, have fun, but still be safe is so important," Gonzalez-Viviano said.