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Cinco de Mayo at the State Capitol

May 5, 2004
By: Darryl Franklin
State Capital Bureau

Today marked the fifth of May, better known as Cinco de Mayo.

Darryl Franklin tells us how Missouri legislators celebrated in Jefferson City.

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Despite thousands of Americans celebrating the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, there wasn't a tremendous amount of celebration in the Missouri legislature. Some like Rep. Larry Taylor say we should celebrate it like we celebrate other national holidays.

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"Well Cinco de Mayo is of course a part of the culture of the people that come up here from Mexico who are immigrants. And I think its fine just the way we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Irish people do this type of thing."

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One difference though is that unlike two months ago when St. Patty's green filled the state capitol, Cinco de Mayo garnered not even a banner hanging from the Capitol building.


For some citizens Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebrating the last European occupation in the Americas. Darryl Franklin tells why one state representative with Hispanic roots feels like the holiday goes beyond simply a Mexican celebration.

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Thousands of Mexicans celebrate their near 150-year-old victory over the French in the town of Puebla.

State Rep. Brian Nieves says a holiday originally starting as a tribute to that event has blossomed into a larger celebration for all Hispanics.

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"Cinco de Mayo is more of a specifically Mexican tradition, but it has, kind of has created an umbrela of recognizing people of Hispanic dissent."

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According to the 2000 Census, Hispanics will replace African-Americans as the largest minority group in the nation.

Legislators say this could be an important group of constituents to appeal to in the future.


Today marked the celebration known as Cinco de Mayo but if you think Mariachi bands weren't playing from the state Capitol, you are right. Darryl Franklin explains the lack of celebration among legislators.

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Rep. Brian Nieves is Missouri's only state Hispanic legislator.

Nieves downplays the minority stereotype though and some are surprised by his decision to implement an English-only language bill.

Nieves says he is assuring his Hispanic voters that his English-only bill isn't discriminatory against specific languages.

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"Probably 99 percent of people who come into my office to speak in opposition of that bill, the first thing they say when they come in is, why did you file an English-only bill?"

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Nieves says the bill which would ensure the wording of the "common language" in most statutes be replaced with the word "English" to ensure the English language will indeed have a place in the state's future.