National Hispanic Heritage Month was first proclaimed by President George H.W. Bush on September 14th, 1989, and has been celebrated ever since. Taking place from September 15th to October 15th, Hispanic Heritage month celebrates and recognizes diverse cultures and the history of the Latino community. The month also celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.
The theme for this year is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers states that this year’s theme “encourages us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation.”
Hope College is celebrating Hispanic Heritage month with numerous events throughout the month. The Latino Student Organization hosts many events to spread awareness about the Latino community. One event, in particular, allowed students and the Holland community to share their stories about their experiences and was an opportunity to learn about Hispanic culture and heritage.
Hispanic leaders and famous names celebrated during this month include Cesar Chávez and Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta. Cesar Chávez was an influential leader for civil rights and labor unions. He was born in Arizona on March 31st, 1927, and moved to northern California in the late 1930s. Chávez and his family became migrant farm workers during industrialized agriculture, and he then dropped out of school to help support the family in the fields. Eventually, in his later years after working in the navy, Chávez formed the National Farm Workers Association, whose goal was to unionize farm workers to fight to improve wages and working conditions. He was adamant that his union followed a strict policy of peace and nonviolent protest, and led the boycott of all California table grapes, an influential strike in Latino history. Following this strike, the Farmers Union was granted higher wages and the right to unionize.
Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta, more often known as Dolores Huerta, was the co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association. In 1962, Huerta and Chávez founded this association together from their shared passion for farmers’ unions. Huerta has since become an influential leader and figure in the Hispanic community. Huerta was born on April 10th, 1930, in Dawson, New Mexico, and eventually moved to California, like Chávez. Her first role in activism was co-founding the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization, which fought for economic improvements for Hispanics. Through her association with other organizations, she met Cesar Chávez and became part of the National Farm Workers Association. She went on to revolutionize the Hispanic community and has a documentary, which showcases the struggles the Hispanic community had to face.
Hope College is celebrating Hispanic Heritage this month. Throughout the end of September and beginning of October, various events will be happening on campus to celebrate and recognize this month, including:
Chicanx Art Exhibition: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage [September 24th and 27th-29th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm]
Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration [Saturday, September 24th from 12:00-5:00pm]