Detroit's Mexican Festival, 1975
The Way It Was
For much of the 20th century, immigrants were encouraged to become acclimated to American culture. Speaking a foreign tongue was frowned on. Even “ethnic” sounding names were shortened or otherwise changed. But by the 1970s, the tide had turned. Acknowledging one’s heritage was something to be celebrated, not shunned. It was during that decade that the City of Detroit began to host summer-long ethnic festivals each weekend on the riverfront. Food, music, dancing, and other entertainment contributed to the festivities. Here, a mariachi band and dancer get into the spirit of things at the Mexican Festival. Most Mexican immigrants settled on Detroit’s southwest side, and that enclave continues to have a large Latino population, earning it the nickname Mexicantown. Pontiac, Dearborn, and some Downriver communities also have sizable Mexican-American populations.