Happy Latinx Heritage Month from Gleeson Library!
This month is recognized by the U.S. government as a national celebration of the culture and contributions of the Latin American peoples and their descendants.
As Latinx people, we celebrate from mid-September to mid-October since many Latin American countries celebrate their independence from Spain and other colonial powers during that same time period. Not only is this month celebrated in America, but also all around the world.
The history of Latinx Heritage Month began in the 1960’s. After a group of Latinx people from Los Angeles, California began pushing for a national holiday in honor of their heritage, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated the week following September 15th as “Hispanic Heritage Week”. In 1988, the celebration was extended to a full month as mandated by President Ronald Reagan.
The theme for this year’s celebration is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation (“Unidos” meaning “United”). The theme pushes us to celebrate this month with three ideals in mind:
1) Inviting us to reflect on how our great tomorrow will happen if we stay resilient and hopeful; 2) Encouraging us to reflect on all of the contributions Latinx people have made in the past and continue to make, and most importantly…
3) We as Latinx people need to stick together as much as we can, because we are stronger together than apart.
The first part of this theme invites us to reflect on our great tomorrow; this will only happen if we stay resilient and hopeful as a Latinx community. A great demonstration of this perseverance was the 2006 Immigrant Rights Protests. About 400 protests in defense of immigrant rights took place in over 200 U.S. cities and towns. These events were part of a mass mobilization in response to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (HR 4437) which was passed by the House of Representatives in December 2005. Catching journalists by surprise, demonstrations rolled across the country. The creation of The Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), Viva Kennedy Clubs, the Political Association of Spanish-Speaking Organizations (PASSO), the National Farm Worker Association (NFWA), and Alianza Federal de las Mercedes were all established between 1959 and 1963(Mapping American). We may not have had these organizations nor movements if Latinx people did not unite.
The second part of this theme encourages us to reflect on the contributions of Latinx people in the past and present. According to the New American Economy, the Latinx peoples earn more than $1 trillion each year and contribute tax revenue of more than $252 billion. We not only add value to the U.S. economy, but also help fund social services and infrastructure that ultimately benefits all Americans. In terms of industry, Latinx workers make up significant shares of some of the most important industries in the U.S. economy. In agriculture and construction, we make up more than 3 in 10 workers. In hospitality and food service, almost 1 in 4 workers are Latinx nationwide(Power of the Pursue). The United States and other countries in the diaspora cannot survive without us!
The third part of this theme speaks to us on how Latinx people need to band together, as we are stronger together than apart. In my personal experience, I have noticed that in our culture, we do not always stick together and at times come into conflict as we grapple with our histories in this post-colonial society. If we can overcome these divisions, we can push for the equality, liberties, and rights we are entitled to as Americans.
This would not be an honest and informative piece, if we did not speak about current discourses in the Latinx community. Currently there is a great discussion on the choice of terms we use to identify ourselves. The terms “Hispanic” and “latinx” are the main terms under debate, though others have been discussed in recent years. The current, general consensus considers “Latinx” to be a more suitable term over “Hispanic”, given the latter’s insufficient inclusivity (non-Spanish speaking peoples, gender identities).
Lastly, this celebration is not only a time to come together, but also to remind those who disregard us: WE ARE HERE.
Here at Gleeson, we created a display that recognizes the Latinx struggles, experiences, politics, and histories through the books and resources in our collection. In doing so, we interpret the theme of Unidos as a call to celebrate all Latinx peoples and reaffirm our heritage.
Make sure to visit our display. We hope you continue to celebrate this holiday.
For more information on the Latinx Statistics and movements:
On campus Latinx Support and Groups
Latinx National Resources
“Chicano/Latino Movements History and Geography.” Chicano Movements – Mapping American Social Movements, https://depts.washington.edu/moves/Chicano_intro.shtml.
“Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month Is a Celebration of What Unites Us All.” Office of the President, https://www.washington.edu/president/2022/09/15/national-hispanic-heritage-month-2022/#:~:text=Celebrating%20National%20Hispanic%20Heritage%20Month%20is%20a%20celebration%20of%20what%20unites%20us%20all,-Ana%20Mari%20Cauce&text=Today%20marks%20the%20start%20of,be%20more%20apt%20or%20timely.
Gigliotti, Katherine. “Immigrant Policy Project.” Summary of the Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill, https://www.ncsl.org/research/immigration/summary-of-the-sensenbrenner-immigration-bill.aspx.
“Power of the Purse: The Contributions of Hispanic Americans.” New American Economy Research Fund, 14 Dec. 2021, https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/hispanic-americans-2019/.