How Baldwin does, and doesn’t, do Hispanic Heritage

Baldwin celebrates Hispanics, despite lack of representation


During Hispanic Heritage Month, which spanned Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, some Baldwin residents learned about the monolith that is the Hispanic community through school and library events, while others remained unaware of this ethnic celebration.

Residents took to social media to discuss Hispanic heritage celebrations in Baldwin. David Feldman wrote, “When I was growing up in Baldwin, there were hardly any Hispanic people…I think it’s only appropriate that their heritage be recognized just as the heritage of other ethnic groups living in Baldwin.”

In the school district, several schools have engaged students in learning about notable Hispanic figures. At Baldwin High School, Evaggelia Sakelos's Spanish classes researched and completed mini-reports on historically significant Hispanic people. Anne Grande's classes connected their deceased Hispanic figures to a Day of the Dead "Ofrenda" project.

Baldwin Middle School made daily announcements over the announcements on historical and current Hispanic individuals, which were prepared by students who conducted research at the end of last year. Also, Ingrid Bacca's students entered the Optimum online Hispanic Heritage essay contest to write about a Hispanic/Latino person who inspires them.

Sonia Lopez, an 11-year Baldwin resident of Puerto Rican descent, told the Herald that the Baldwin School District “goes to great lengths to ensure inclusion of the many Hispanic and Latin American families residing in Baldwin. I was often called upon to translate English PTA fliers to Spanish. I also served as a translator at new parent teas, PTA meetings and school events.”

The Baldwin Civic Association did not host any Hispanic Heritage events; however, it is looking to brainstorm events that it might sponsor in the future as its membership becomes more diverse.

The Friends of the Baldwin Public Library, “a newly-formed organization that helps enrich Library services by raising funds for special projects and activities,” sponsored a concert with guitarist Carlos Pavan, to be soon made available for screening.

While the library offers a host of anti-racism events, its Hispanic offerings were more limited. On Sept. 24, it screened “In the Heights” in the community room. At the library board meeting in August, however, the board noted that the new census statistics had come out, and trustees would discuss in November how the library could better reflect the community.

Baldwinite Betty Nicholson echoed the library’s sentiment, saying, “Personally, I don’t mind a nice parade. Of course, the pandemic sort of screwed that for us, but why not a parade for Latinos, especially if the population exists in the area?”

According to the 2020 census, Baldwin has a total population of 33,919, of which 38 percent are Black, 29 percent white, 22 percent Hispanic or Latino and 5 percent Asian-American. Thirty-two percent of students in the school district are Hispanic, and according to the 2019 American Community Survey, over 16 percent of Baldwin households speak Spanish at home.

The population of Hispanic residents in Baldwin has doubled in the last 20 years; however, representation in positions of leadership has not. Neither the school nor library boards have any Hispanic members, Sanitation District No. 2 has no Hispanic commissioners, and neither Nassau County nor the Town of Hempstead have any Hispanic representatives for Baldwin.

The Chamber of Commerce, however, will make a dent in Hispanic leadership representation in Baldwin. On November, the chamber will install Franky Jorge, owner of Gala Fresh Farms in Baldwin, as president.

Jorge told the Herald, “There is a huge presence in Baldwin of Hispanic business owners that is untapped…There is a huge benefit to it,” adding that he hopes “we can all unite and make Baldwin a better place together.”