History not forgotten at Guadalupe Centers’ Cinco de Mayo celebration

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A lot of people will no doubt celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year, but do you know why you are celebrating?

The Guadalupe Centers in Kansas City held their annual fiesta to bring the community together for traditional music, food, and culture.

"Here in the states we celebrate it way more than we do in Mexico," said Guadalupe Centers prevention specialist Gina Coronado.

The event benefits the longest running Mexican community organization in The United States.

"It's a way of bonding together. Diverse people come together and really understand, and express joy in culture," said Theresa Torres, professor of Latino studies at University of Missouri Kansas City.

But why do we celebrate? The holiday remembers the victor of The Mexican Army in The Battle of Puebla back in 1862. The French Army invaded Mexico after the country failed to pay some debt.

"The defeat happened by the Mexican troops, but at the same time, The French army was able to defeat the Mexican armies in a few battles, and then they took over for a couple of years," said Sandra Enriquez, an Assoc. Professor of History at UMKC.

Enriquez says it wasn't until the 1980s when beer companies took the holiday over.

"Then in the 80s you have beer companies marketing and taking over the holiday itself. So that's where you see the Budweisers, and the Bud lights, and the Coronas making this holiday into a party, into the drinking and celebrating," Enriquez said.

However, she says even though the day isn't celebrated traditionally, coming together on Cinco de Mayo gives people an opportunity to learn and celebrate the Mexican and Latino heritage.

"It gives them an opportunity to celebrate their roots, but those who are not aware of Mexican culture, or do not know, they get to experience it," Enriquez said.

Alejandra Jiminez has family from Mexico, and she lives in Omaha, Nebraska. She came to Kansas City to see how the city celebrates.

"It's about celebrating the heritage. Yes, it's about celebration, but it's about remembering why your celebrating. So, I think that's really important," Jiminez said.

"Guadalupe Centers is about building community. Not just the Latinx community, but the community of Kansas City. We've been here a long time, and we want you to know that we welcome everyone, and we really appreciate the support of Kansas City," Torres said.

The Guadalupe Centers is gearing up to celebrate their 100th anniversary.

All the proceeds from the event goes to social programs through the organization for people of all ages.