How Are You Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month?

Artist Frida Kahlo

Looking for special ways to celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans – one of the most culturally-rich, varied, and powerful minorities in the nation?

Here's an idea: Delve into Hispanic history, art, and music, such as the paintings of Frida Kahlo, pictured here.

1. Tune in to LATINO AMERICANS on your local PBS station this fall (broadcast times vary by location). This major documentary series -- the first ever on television to focus on the Latino American experience -- promises to deliver sizzling drama along with the history.

You can get a sneak peek on the PBS website, which includes videos from each episode, starting with episode one: Foreigners in Their Own Land.

Poke around the Latino-Americans section of the website, especially the Timeline page, which details important historical dates and events, with photos and video clips mixed in.

The timeline begins with: "1565, Saint Augustine brings the first European settlement to the United States, introducing Catholicism and the Spanish language in Florida." (FYI: St. Augustine, Florida, claims the title of "Nation's Oldest City," or first permanently occupied European settlement.)

2. View art by Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo:

Even if your city's art museum doesn't own a Kahlo, you can find one of her 200 paintings online. Click on this link to see her most powerful (and disturbing) self-portrait, Henry Ford Hospital (also known as The Flying Bed).

Kahlo was in ill health most of her life, first from polio at age 6, then from severe injuries suffered during a bus accident at age 18. She underwent many surgeries afterward, but continued her diary-like self-portraits using a special easel that allowed her to paint from bed.

For more on Frida, see the 2002 bio-pic titled (what else?) Frida, starring Salma Hayek as Kahlo and Alfred Molino as Diego Rivera, her bigger-than-life, handful-of-a-husband.

3. Listen to the mesmerizing music of a new Latina favorite, Esperanza Spalding.

Click on the link above to enjoy her hour-long performance on Austin City Limits on PBS. This multi-talented Afro-Latina vocalist and bassist was born in 1984 in Portland, Oregon. (As a fellow Portland-native, I consider her a hometown favorite.)

But now the whole world loves Spalding and her repertoire of jazz, fusion, and bossa nova. She’s won three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist – the only jazz musician to be so honored.

Of course we can still enjoy our old favorites, such as Cuban-born Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan. Winner of seven Grammys over a long and celebrated career, Estefan is still hot, hot, hot.

What are you doing to celebrate this month? We'd love to hear!

Jebra Turner is a health reporter and former H.R. director, where she oversaw workplace health and safety training programs for staff and clients. She lives in rainy Portland, Oregon but you can visit her at www.jebra.com.