JACKSON, Miss.- Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday celebrated every year on May 5th, commemorating the Mexicans’ victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly popular along the U.S.-Mexico border and in parts of the U.S. that have a high population of people with a Mexican heritage. In these areas the holiday is a celebration of Mexican culture, of food, music, beverage and customs unique to Mexico.
Pete Castorena started Cinco de Mayo Mississippi in hopes of showing the citizens of Mississippi the importance of Mexican culture, and just what their role is in society.
“…for so many years, there’s been a problem with the Hispanic community and the American community, and not really understanding the culture,” Castorena said. “Everybody thinks that Mexicans come to the United States, and they work and they take jobs. But the truth of the matter is, we are the workforce of America. And, in order to understand that, look at the jobs that we have. Look at the jobs that we take, that nobody wants. People would rather get on food stamps. They don’t want these jobs. And Mexicans are willing to do the job, they don’t care. They’ll work.”
So, as a part of Cinco de Mayo Mississippi, there was a festival held over the weekend, as well as the first Hispanic Miss Mississippi pageant. There were several stipulations for pageant contestants, as part of an incentive program. They had to be in school, they had to be legal citizens of the United States of America, they had to present a speech… in English, and they also had to have a geographical knowledge of America.