MEMPHIS, Tenn.– As Memphis and the Mid-South recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to celebrate the achievements and leaders working to make a difference in the community.

On one of the biggest nights of the year, the spotlight was placed brightly on the Latinx community in Memphis.

Hundreds came out to celebrate their achievement, leaders, and community supporters at The Premios Alma Latina or Latin Soul Awards at The Grove of the Germantown Performing Arts Center.

“The history behind the awards is to recognize or spotlight leaders in the community and small businesses that are making a difference within our people,” said multimedia specialist Angel Ortez.

The Latin Soul Awards is a celebration of the Latino community and others working side-by-side with them to make Memphis and the Mid-South a better place.

“We recognized that here’s a very large Latino community here and we are a united community here in Memphis,” Ortez said.

Cazateatro Bilingual Theatre Group and The Grove rolled out the red carpet to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of the Latino community, a community and people reflective of the many different countries now calling Memphis home.

“It’s very important for people to understand that there’s is a lot of diversity within the Latino community as well as the unity that we all bring because we want to make sure people understand that Latinos aren’t just one thing,” said Alex White and Illeanetee Wilson “Latinos are multiple countries coming together forming a huge community here in Memphis,”

The night was filled with Latin music, Latin food, and Latin vendors, but the focus was squarely on the honorees saluting Latinx business owners, Latinx Community leaders, friends of the Latinx community, and future Latinx leaders.

One common theme was diversity and empowerment.

“By celebrating beautiful black and brown people in every way possible and when we talk about Hispanic Heritage Month, what does that mean? It is also celebrating blackness and also celebrating our indigenous people and also celebrating all of us as people,” said Puerto Rican cultural heritage instructor Ivelisse Diaz.

The award ceremony was the third of its kind in Memphis as many used the event to build stronger connections and embrace their roots.

“They’re important because there is a space that’s open to bring in all of the diversity of different Hispanic cultures and it allows a space for us as Latinos to say we’re here and we bring something good to our community,” said Heydi Roman, owner of Dream Upon A Dress clothing store in Bartlett.

This gathering was also a chance for those other than Latinos to observe the work being done to improve not only the Hispanic community but the City of Memphis.

“Music and food unite people and these are folks who need to be recognized in our Latinx community and GPAC is thrilled to work with such an amazing company like Cazateatro,” said GPAC education and engagement coordinator Jenn King.

“Right now, we are starting to celebrate and Cazateatro created these awards and want all the people to know what the Hispanic people mean and all the heritage basically,” said Gerado Rivillas, Cazateatro member and emcee.