Get ready for Flint’s annual Cinco de Mayo celebration May 5, when Mexican-American culture is celebrated in countries like the USA, Canada and Australia where Latinx people from Mexico have settled. Cinco de Mayo has become a day to reflect on Mexican-American heritage and issues the Latinx community faces and to have fun celebrating Mexican culture.
The organization formerly known as the Hispanic Technology & Community Center of Greater Flint began 2019 as the Latinx Technology & Community Center of Greater Flint and will soon unveil a new website. Executive director Asa Zuccaro explains that the word “Latinx” is pronounced “la-TEEN-ex.” It has evolved from the words Latino/a to be used as an inclusive term for all people of Latin American descent, regardless of gender or country of origin. The older term “Hispanic” is now considered more accurately used when referring to the people of Spain or Spanish descent, as many Latinx individuals are primarily of indigenous Central and South American ancestry.
The Latinx Technology & Community Center of Greater Flint also offers a number of programs and services to the community. “We offer English classes and Spanish classes for adults and children,” Zuccaro says. “And we teach student leadership, have a food pantry and a technology center where people can come and print their resumes and other materials.”
“Last year we hosted a celebration. Admittance was free, and everyone got a plate of authentic Mexican food. For a donation, they could eat more. We also had dancing and a huge piñata for the kids and gave out information on Cinco de Mayo and its history.”
Zuccaro explains that Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day as a lot of people assume. That holiday is celebrated on September 16. Instead it commemorates a battle in which the Mexicans repelled an invasion from France in 1862 at the city of Puebla.
“Mexicans in Puebla celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it’s mostly an American holiday,” Zuccaro says.
Flint’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration was held May 6, 2017, in downtown’s Flat Lot and featured food, entertainment and children’s activities. Several different groups were involved, including the center. The group Latinos United for Flint held a health-oriented teach-in at the center, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church as well as a number of Mexican restaurants hosted special events to mark the day.
This year, the center is planning to do something new and as this issue goes to press the celebration is being planned, Zuccaro says.
According to a 2007 paper from the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, Cinco de Mayo originated in California in 1863. As Latinx people moved into other areas, they brought the holiday with them. Over the years the holiday has become a way to celebrate far more than just that one military victory.
“It’s a great way to recognize and learn about Mexican culture,” Zuccaro says.
“Mexicans in Puebla celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but it’s mostly an American holiday.” —Zuccaro