Mexico declared independence from Spain on September 16, 1821, after the 10-year Mexican War of Independence, and that day has become commonly known as Diez y Seis de Septiembre. In 1994, former Mayor Nelson Wolff, now Bexar County Judge, started the Diez y Seis de Septiembre Commission to commemorate the day of independence and celebrate Latino heritage in San Antonio.

The City’s Department for Culture and Creative Development (DCCD) joined the commission to launch a calendar of events Wednesday at the Plaza de Armas Gallery that will do just that. Dancers from the Alma Gitana dance company performed at the event’s end to preview the cultural events to come.

DCCD Director Felix Padrón said San Antonio’s population is more than 60% Mexican-American, so “it’s very fitting that San Antonio is a big partner in this celebration.”

Padrón said September 16 has become a centerpiece celebration for Hispanic communities throughout the United States. Los Angeles and Chicago are two other major cities that have similar events.

“San Antonio has some really deep roots,” he said, adding that the events are widely attended by “not only the Mexican-American community but all citizens who embrace the culture.”

Two young dancers from  the Alma Gitana dance company performed during the event. Photo by Joan Vinson.
Two young dancers from the Alma Gitana dance company performed during the event. Photo by Joan Vinson.

The Avenida Guadalupe Association will host a parade and festival on Sept. 12 to celebrate the 16 de Septiembre. The parade will begin at the intersection of Zarzamora and Guadalupe and continue through the Westside until reaching Plaza Guadalupe.

Other events include a public mass at the San Fernando Cathedral on Sept. 13, an event for seniors at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Sept. 16, a mariachi concert at the Arneson River Theatre on Sept. 19, a week-long Flamenco Fest from Oct. 5-11 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and many more. Follow this link for the complete calendar of events.

For Councilmember Shirley Gonzales (D5), the commission’s liaison, these events are educational experiences, especially for younger generations who are learning to appreciate their heritage.

“It’s a source of pride for those of us that are of Mexican-American descent,” she said.

Councilmember Roberto Treviño (D1), the commission’s honorary chair, said celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day and other cultural events recognize the identity of those who live in San Antonio.

“It’s who we are and we can’t forget that,” he said. “We want to grow as a city but we want to grow in such a way that we never forget our history.”

*Featured/top image: Members of the Alma Gitana dance company performed during the Diez y Seis de Septiembre event. Photo by Joan Vinson. 

Related Stories:

Diez y Seis de Septiembre: San Antonio’s Month-Long Grito

Mariachi: Out of the Bar, Into the Classroom

Accordion Festival Puts La Villita in a Mood for Polka

Arte y Pasión: Pushing the Boundaries of Flamenco

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....