de Mayo, the celebration of Mexico's victory over invading French troops in
1862, is an important observance because it has reflected the changes and
developments in Latino communities throughout California for the past 145 years
and because it was invented in California, according to a paper recently
published by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture.
de Mayo is important to California
because it was invented here," said David E. Hayes-Bautista, director of the
center and the paper's lead author. "It provides a collective identity for all
Latinos, whether they were born here in California
or immigrated from Mexico,
Central America or South America. It binds
them together in an identity — it is as important to Latinos as the Alamo is to Anglo-Texans."
paper by Hayes-Bautista and co-author Cynthia L. Chamberlin, the center's
historian, appears in the spring edition of the Southern California Quarterly
and is titled "Cinco de Mayo's First Seventy-Five Years in Alta
California: From Spontaneous Behavior to Sedimented Memory, 1862
holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican troops over the invading French at
the first Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The second Battle of Puebla, fought
one year after the first, was a rematch between Mexican and French troops that
lasted more than two months. A desire to support Mexican President Benito
Juárez and the Mexican troops galvanized Latinos in California
and produced a collective response that drew together Californios, Mexican
immigrants, Central and South American immigrants, and their English-speaking
children born in California.
The first celebrations of the original Battle of Puebla were begun in 1863 in California.
Puebla eventually fell to the French after a two-month siege, but its
struggle became a symbol of heroic resistance for Latinos in California.
holiday, which has been celebrated in California
continuously since 1863, is virtually ignored in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo festivals
here are characterized by parades, patriotic speeches and picnics, along with
the prominent display of both the Mexican and U.S. flags.
de Mayo has been celebrated every year from 1863 until now, but today, the
history has been lost," Hayes-Bautista said. "We remember it is important, but
we don't remember why. We wanted to bring back the history about why the
Ovnick, editor of the Southern California Quarterly, which published the paper,
said, "The journal's focus is the history of Southern California, the state as
a whole and the American West. This paper is a valuable contribution to our
readers' understanding of the significance of Cinco de Mayo to Latinos and to
About the UCLA Center
for the Study of Latino Health and Culture
1992, the UCLA Center
for the Study of Latino Health and Culture has been a resource for cutting-edge
research, education and public information about Latinos, their health and
their role in California.
Under the leadership of Hayes-Bautista, the center, part of the David Geffen
School of Medicine at UCLA, has been the lead institution exploding myths and
stereotypes about Latinos in California
society, providing reliable data on Latino health, emphasizing the positive
contributions of Latinos to the state's economy and society, and informing the
public about the important emerging Latino medical market.
largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 37,000 undergraduate and
graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's
11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 300 degree
programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth
and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing
education and athletic programs. Four alumni and five faculty have been awarded
the Nobel Prize.