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Hispanic leaders in Georgia respond to question: 'What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to YOU?'

11Alive Reporter Paola Suro asked some Hispanic leaders in the Georgia community to reflect on what this month means to them. Here's what they said.

ATLANTA — It's a simple question with an array of answers: "What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?" As a Hispanic person myself, it's a question I've often wondered about. 

In fact, it's a question that requires more than one sentence to respond to, which is why I challenged some of our Hispanic leaders in Georgia to try and respond in one sentence starting with myself.

It means finding a home no matter what country I go to and recognizing the significant progress we've made thanks to those who came before us.

Okay, I realize there are two thoughts, but technically, it's one sentence. For Hispanic people, expanding something in one sentence is a difficult task. We love to talk - especially when it comes to speaking about our beautiful culture.

 Below, read what some of our incredible Hispanic trailblazers had to say.

RELATED: Why do we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Deborah Gonzalez - District Attorney of Western Judicial Circuit in Clarke and Oconee Counties; first Latinx District Attorney in Georgia: "When I think of Hispanic Heritage Month, I think of pride, 'orgullo.' To be able to represent what our cultures are capable of, to be able to share our cultures - whether that's music or food - or a capability of us wanting to help our communities together. I hope you enjoy and learn a lot more about our cultures this National Hispanic Heritage Month."

Lauren Foster - Manager, Premium Membership Services for the Atlanta Hawks: "Hispanic Heritage Month is being able to honor and share cultures that Hispanics have and the history behind them. Even more specifically, this month is a period I get to reflect and share our beautiful culture I share with 62 million others in the United States. It means a time of dancing and eating and celebrating life that is the flavor that is engrained in our culture."

Nury Castillo Crawford - Owner and Founder of The Little Book Spot inside Plaza Las Americas: "Hispanic Heritage Month is an amazing opportunity for other people that do not have roots in my culture to learn about our food, our music, our history and all of the amazing contributions that Latino Americans have provided for the United States of America. I am a Latina every single day of the year, and I am myself and enjoy everything that comes with being a Latina, but during Hispanic Heritage Month, it is amazing to see so many people want to learn more about our culture: a culture filled with hard work, perseverance, family, strong values, and definitely lots of pride."

Belisa Urbina - Executive Director, Ser Familia: "Hispanic Heritage Month means to me all honoring those Latinos that live in our state and make this such a great place to live."

Santiago Marquez - CEO, Latin American Association: "It's a great opportunity for people to learn about the diversity in the Hispanic community and also to take a moment to really celebrate the community. Plenty of opportunities for engagement through music, festivals and fun."

Leslie Palomino - Georgia Senior Lead, Poder Latinx: "A time of celebration of who we are, our cultural origins and our diversity, and personally one of my favorite months to educate others about my Peruvian roots and traditions."

Alba Villareal - Director of Communications, GALEO: "It's about celebrating and honoring our roots. It is also an opportunity to educate the people around us about the plight that our community has gone through and the way that we have persevered at every obstacle and every challenge. It's about celebrating decades of hard work that's worth talking about. It's not going to stop any time soon."

Jerry Gonzalez - CEO, GALEO: "Means to me that we celebrate both our culture and our power. So we make sure we are registered to vote and we prepare to early vote on October 17."

Alex Villanueva - President, Hispanic Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE): "It's a moment in my time when I get to reflect on the sacrifices my family gave to me to give me a better life and eventually allow me to become a first-generation college graduate. It's also a time when I get to reflect on all the leaders who gave me a chance and impacted my life in so many ways. Leaders like Juanita Velez: HYPE founder, best friend, and personal mentor. Leaders like Sofia Bork: the first person who ever introduced me to the HYPE community. Former vice president, best friend and mentor. Leaders like Ana Urrego, current HYPE vice president, big sister, and the one that I'm currently leading HYPE with as we navigate our community on a week-to-week basis."

Gina Espinosa - Public Relations Professional: "It's great to have the spotlight on the Hispanic community. But this month should also be a reminder of the substantial contributions this group is making to the economy and culture. Latinos have become an essential part of the fabric of American society."

Dr. Jose Marquez - CEO, Tech Latino and Co-Founder, GA Latino Film Alliance and the Georgia Latino Film Festival: "During this month we celebrate and look back at the amazing contributions our community has given. Whether its Celia Cruz who changed the course of Latin music or our first Hispanic astronaut Jose Hernandez. These are stories that must be told and must continue to be told in our community. It's culture and everyday contributions in the United States. The Latino community is much more than that: we are the knight and shining armor of America. So we should all celebrate!"

Dr. Roxana Chicas - Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Nursing: "It's a time to celebrate our indigenous roots and migration story. To recognize the audacity of our ancestors to dream and provide future Latino leaders with the opportunity to thrive. Que comienze la fiesta [let the party start]!"

Gigi Pedraza - Executive Director and Founder, Latino Community Fund Georgia: "Means celebrating the many cultures we all come from and inherited but also the determination of our people today and recognizing we are always evolving and changing and contributing wherever we are."

Ricardo Miguel Martinez - Latino Association for Parents of Public Schools: "We honor our past efforts, our leaders, our battles, struggles, and wins, the present state of our community and our future. Make sure that we empower ourselves for our future by owning it and registering to vote."

Antonio Molina - Attorney at Law & Chairman, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "Hispanic Heritage Month gives us the opportunity once a year to be able to honor, celebrate, and elevate our community and our culture."

Verónica Maldonado-Torres - President and CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: "Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of our community and I think it spans way beyond those 30 days. Every day we are making the decision to do better and leave an impactful legacy for future generations."

RELATED: Why is it called Hispanic Heritage Month?

For many, including myself, the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month cannot be answered in simply one sentence.

Follow 11Alive's Paola Suro on Twitter.

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