From September 15th to October 15th, the United States celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month. National Geographic joined communities across Spain, South, Central, and North America to celebrate the history, contributions, influence, and accomplishments of Latinx, Latina, Latino, and Hispanic people who have enriched the United States. National Geographic acknowledges the systemic discrimination Latinx/a/o and Hispanic people face in our nation and our collective efforts aim to advance a more diverse, inclusive and equitable future.
HOLA DC, a National Geographic business employee resource group, cultivates diverse leadership by enriching and celebrating Latinx/a/o and Hispanic people members in the Nat Geo family through radical change, cultural education, awareness, and mentorship. The month, HOLA DC showcased, celebrated and commemorated the beauty of the Latinx/a/o and Hispanic culture through virtual events, brave conversations, and in conjunction with Nat Geo channel programming initiatives.
The virtual event, “Meet the Mezcla: A Brave Conversation with the Latinx Diaspora,” gave National Geographic Latinx/a/o and Hispanic employees the opportunity to share their journeys. National Geographic employees Estrella Levy, Mari Belalcazar, Nick Bernasconi, Natali Freeling, Vilma Linares, and Daniela Noguera engaged in a brave conversation with the HOLA DC board, moderated by HOLA DC co-chair, Daniela Delgado. The “Meet the Mezcla” event was educational and eye-opening, as the participants shared personal stories about their upbringings and their individual experiences.
A day before the premiere of National Geographic’s documentary “Blood on the Wall,” the makers of the documentary participated in a virtual panel to discuss the making of this film and its surrounding issues. “Blood on the Wall” examines the driving forces pushing migrants to take harrowing journeys to cross the United States border. This fantastic panel discussion was hosted by HOLA DC, moderated by Nat Geo’s executive vice president of communications Chris Albert, and included the film’s director Nick Quested, co-producer Nicolas Lupo Sonnabend, and political analyst Denise Dresser.
Hispanic heritage has long buried the Black voices of the Latinx/a/o and Hispanic community. The virtual event “AfroLatinidad: The Voices Between Black and Brown” presented an opportunity for a compelling conversation to take place as panelists discussed how an understanding of the intersectionality between race, nationality, ancestry, heritage and politics influence progress in our communities and workplace.
Moderated by HOLA DC Co-Chair and Nat Geo project coordinator Isabella Alonzo, the panel included Alex Perez, national correspondent and reporter for ABC News; Catherine McKenzie, executive producer GMA3 and ABC News Live; Ivan Heredia, vice president of brand engagement and revenue at Radio Disney Network; Luisa Arnedo, senior program officer for wildlife grants at Nat Geo Society; and Alex Behrmann, director of product development consumer platform for DTCI.
Finally, HOLA DC partnered with Nat Geo PRIDE to host the final virtual event of the month. “Cafecito Con PRIDE” featured members of the DC community for a “cafecito,” or a little coffee chat, in honor of LGBT History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Panelists included vice president of Latino GLBT History Project Steph Niaupari, and community health action department director of La Clínica del Pueblo Manuel Diaz-Ramirez. The event was moderated by HOLA DC co-chair Itzel-Marine Gourmelon. They discussed healthcare, housing, domestic violence, and workplace inclusion, which are shared issues affecting LGBTQ+ and Latinx/a/o and Hispanic communities.
HOLA DC also contributed to the daily staff newsletter throughout the month, highlighting National Geographic’s Latinx/a/o and Hispanic staff, Explorers, and the cultural diversity within every Latin America country and Spain.
Nat Geo’s multiplatform programming team also celebrated the month by creating a collection on Nat Geo TV featuring the beautiful environment, diverse wildlife, and rich culture of Hispanic heritage.
Nat Geo WILD honored National Hispanic Heritage Month by spotlighting world renowned dog behavior expert Cesar Millan. Back-to-back episodes of the “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” led into the one-hour special, “Cesar Millan: The Real Story.”
Nat Geo WILD also celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day all day long on September 16th, as viewers could check out destination WILD titles showcasing the beauty of Latin America, leading into the premiere of “Mexico Untamed.”
Nat Geo Mundo featured Hispanic Heritage Month programming all month long as well, and featured the series premiere of “Los Caminantes” on October 5th, which spotlights the strength, hope and resilience of Latinx/a/o and Hispanic people. This show is about the true story of four Venezuelan migrants forced to leave home and intent on traveling to Bogota, Colombia to find a better life. During their voyage, the travelers meet Jose Rafael Guzman, a Venezuelan TV personality and comedian who decides to join them. He documents the long and difficult journey ahead, but at the same time, they face it with optimism, lot of laughs and teamwork.
Lastly, on September 15th National Geographic published the children’s book “A World Together,” written by Sonia Manzano, who famously voiced Maria on PBS’ Sesame Street. Sonia’s book celebrates cultural diversity and beautifully illustrates how we are more alike than different. As Sonia told People Magazine, “The book is for all children, so they see how many people all over the world experience the same things… Learning about other cultures makes you a stronger person.”