"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Celebrating Mexican Independence Day in Chicago

Courtesy of Jorge Mendoza-Torres (Flickr PDM)

Mexico is a vibrant country full of life and color, especially when celebrating holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Mexican Independence Day is a holiday that celebrates the country’s independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. Brightly colored parades, delicious foods, and mariachi music fill the air, spotlighting national pride.

Hispanics and Latinos from around the world come together to commemorate their heritage during this critical event in the country’s history.

Before it was known as Mexico, the country was named New Spain and ruled with an iron fist for over 300 years. The native population suffered from oppression, their farmland and personal wealth were taken, and only the Spaniards were allowed to make political decisions and even have political views. Priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who lived in the town of Dolores, wanted a change and finally had enough and decided to speak out.

The brave priest rang the church’s bell and gave the townspeople Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), an exceptionally inspiring speech, demanding that the Spanish rule be over and overthrow the king to regain their home. His speech was so motivating it caused the Spanish-American wars of independence to come into motion.

The Mexican Independence war lasted over a decade. It ended on Aug. 24, 1821, when Spain finally withdrew their harsh reign and recognized Mexico as a country.

Costilla is now recognized as the Father of Mexican Independence, and they have celebrated his actions for over 200 years, spreading worldwide. The country’s leader was inspired by America’s 4th of July with all the patriotic colors, foods, activities, music, and parades.

He also wanted to celebrate. Mexico’s most famous tradition is when they ring the big bell. White, green, and red can be seen across Mexico and in the U.S.’s highly populated Hispanic and Latino areas.

Courtesy of Julieta Álvarez Leal (Flickr CC0)

Mexicans started migrating to Chicago in the early 1900s because of the Revolutionary War’s economic, political, and social problems. Additionally, the rise of industrial and agricultural employment in the United States enticed them to move north.

Chicago celebrates Mexico’s independence by throwing a large parade in Pilsen. For the past 20 years, crowds have gathered to dance, sing, and shout joyfully while vendors and restaurants supply traditional cuisine to spread love and the at-home feeling of Mexico to everyone.

The parade is full of people customizing their cars with the Mexican flag, honking, yelling, and blasting music. The celebration includes bright lights, people dancing in the street, hanging out of their cars, holding up their flags, and wearing shirts representing Mexico.

As they flood the streets with Mexican pride, people join together as one large family and embrace the love of their country. The parade’s 2022 theme is “Nuestra Unidad es Nuestra Fortaleza,” or “Our Unity is Our Strength.” It starts at the infamous arch at 26th Street and Albany Avenue on Sept. 11, 2022, and will proceed down 26th Street to Kostner Avenue. Everyone is welcome. The community encourages people to enjoy the day and help support Mexican vendors, restaurants, and family businesses and stay to enjoy all the fun.

Even the President of Mexico participates by ringing that now 200-year-old bell, live on TV, the night before the big celebration and parties of pride begin.

Written by Zaylah De La Torre
Edited by Sheena Robertson


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Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jorge Mendoza-Torres’ Flickr Page – Public Domain License

Insert Image Courtesy of Julieta Álvarez Leal’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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