7 things to know about Hispanic heritage in KC

Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 17:31:32-04

National Hispanic Heritage Month came into being in 1988, when President Ronald Reagan expanded the week-long celebration introduced by President Lyndon Johnson 20 years earlier.

With an Hispanic community that dates from the 1800s to the present, Kansas City has plenty to celebrate! 

7 things to know

1. The cities. According to the 2010 US Census, people identifying themselves as Hispanic make up 27 percent of the Kansas City, Kan. population and 10 percent of the Kansas City, Mo. population. 

2. The suburbs. Johnson County, Kan. is the local area seeing the biggest burst in Hispanic population, partly because city government in Olathe has decided to make it easier for immigrants to assimilate.

The Olathe Latino Coalition is hosting Girl Scout-friendly events during Hispanic Heritage month. In fact, Girl Scouts can earn a Historic Heritage patch if they participate. Read more about activities in Olathe here.

3. People. The average age of an Hispanic person in the Kansas City metro is 24 years old. 40 percent of the Hispanics in the metro are 24 years or younger. (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City)

MORE: Take the NBC Hispanic Heritage Month quiz

4. History. Hispanic roots in the Kansas City area reach back to 1830s, when the Santa Fe Trail opened up trade from Mexico. Later, immigrants came in a new wave, with the establishment of railroads on both sides of the state line.

RELATED: State Line Hispanic Communities Have Deep Roots In Kansas City History (

5. Faith. Father Jose Muñoz founded Our Lady of Guadalupe on 23rd Street in Kansas City, Mo. in 1914. The Catholic parish served as an early hub for new arrivals from Mexico. A school founded in 1915 still serves the community.

6. Big business. According to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, the Hispanic market’s size is growing nationwide, with buying power that amounts to $1.5 trillion. 

7. Celebrate! Activities around the region kicked off with Fiesta Hispana, Sept. 11-13, and there is more to come.

Latino or Hispanic? This is a widely debated question. Here's what the website Diffen says: Even though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. Hispanic is a term that originally denoted a relationship to ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula). Now it relates to the contemporary nation of Spain, its history, and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic. Latino refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. 

Learn more about National Hispanic Heritage Month.