Marking the End of Hispanic Heritage Month

October 16, 2013 Updated Oct 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM EDT

By Desiree Wiley

October 16, 2013 Updated Oct 16, 2013 at 6:29 PM EDT

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Hispanic Heritage Council is working on a big project. They’ve taken on the challenge to compile the history of the Hispanic population here in Buffalo. Casimiro Rodriguez, President of the Hispanic Heritage Council said, “We’ve been able to procure funding through the New York State Council on the Arts.”

The council began the project late last year with the help of the University at Buffalo, the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York and other community organizations. “The first phase of the project consists of oral interviews and collecting old photos,” says Rodriguez.

Over one hundred Hispanics who have immigrated to Western New York are taking part. Rodriguez was inspired to start the project because little has been documented about the contribution Hispanics have made to our area.

“Folks that came here as migrant workers came to pick crops,” said Rodriguez. During the early 1940’s, Rodriguez says, the steel industry was thriving. Many immigrants were a big part of the Lackawanna steel mill.

“Right now in the city of Buffalo there’s about 30,000 Hispanics,” says Rodriguez. That number will continue to grow locally and nationally.

Rodriguez says it’s important for the younger generation to know their history before it’s too late. “It’s important for our children, our younger generation. They need to know how their ancestors got to Western New York.” He believes that if you don’t know where you came from then you can’t know where you’re going.

There is no date on when Hispanic History Project will be complete. It’s expected to take a few years.