The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Used to Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19. Here’s the History Behind the Lyrics

spanish-national-anthem

By Olivia B. Waxman

hile COVID-19 has been dubbed “the great equalizer” by some, emerging data suggest that minorities in the U.S. are more vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic on multiple levels. In New York City, for example, preliminary data showed that 34% of fatalities as of April 8 were within the Hispanic community, despite their making up only 29% of the city’s population. Nationwide, Hispanic and Latinx Americans are also the largest uninsured group.

In addition, only 16% of Hispanic workers can do their jobs from home. That means many are essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic fight — in New York City, they make up about 40% of employees at grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores — and others are unable to work at all. Nationwide, about half of Hispanic people say a household member got a pay cut or lost a job, or both, as a result of COVID-19, compared to 33% of U.S. adults, per a Pew Research Center survey conducted March 19-24.

That disproportionate impact is part of the inspiration for a new video, launched Tuesday, that aims to pay tribute to the roughly 60 million Hispanic people in America and their work on the front lines of this crisis. It also provides a reminder of an often-forgotten slice of American history: the creation of the official Spanish-language national anthem. TIME