UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista stumbled upon the answer to a question that for years had puzzled scholars and amateur historians alike:
Why is Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in California and the United States, when it is scarcely observed in Mexico?
As Hayes-Bautista explains in “El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition,” his new book on the origins of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican at all.
Rather, it is an American holiday, rooted in the Civil War and commemorated today because a network of Latino groups in California known as the juntas patrióticas mejicanas (Mexican patriotic assemblies) deliberately created a public memory of it.
“We have had a lot of conjecture, a lot of guessing, but no one actually really knew,” he said. “Now we know why it’s celebrated.”
Keep reading – to learn how France invaded Mexico, for slavery and the Confederacy, only to be defeated on May 5, 1862.
Or, listen to Professor Hayes-Bautista explain it himself: