Recognizing the profound impact Hispanics have had on American society

By Wayne Gersie, vice president for equity and inclusion, and Vanessa Gonzalez-Figuereo, assistant dean for advising and student services September 15, 2023

National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 marks the beginning of the 2023 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.

I welcome you in joining the Quinnipiac community in celebrating, participating and honoring the legacy of the Hispanic community at Quinnipiac, in the state, the country and worldwide.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a significant and vibrant celebration that takes place from September 15 to October 15.

During this month-long observance, we honor and recognize the rich cultural contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans.

It's a time to celebrate our Latinx heritage, history and the invaluable impact Latinx people have made on the nation.

We will delve into the importance of National Hispanic Heritage Month and its origins. We will also highlight the activities that will be taking place in our community to celebrate this important month.

The Origins of National Hispanic Heritage Month

The roots of National Hispanic Heritage Month can be traced back to 1968 when it was initially known as Hispanic Heritage Week.

The idea for this celebration was proposed by U.S. Rep. George E. Brown, who wanted to acknowledge the countless contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States.

His proposal received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The choice of dates — September 15 to October 15 — was not arbitrary.

September 15 is a significant date for several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as it marks the anniversary of their independence from Spain in 1821. Additionally, Mexico celebrates its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

To include these important celebrations, Hispanic Heritage Week grew to a month-long observance.

The Importance of National Hispanic Heritage Month

The emphasis during National Hispanic Heritage Month surrounds five areas. These areas include celebrating diversity, recognizing contributions, promoting inclusivity, educational opportunities and strengthening unity.

Celebrating Diversity: One of the most vital aspects of National Hispanic Heritage Month is its celebration of diversity within the Hispanic and Latinx communities.

This month allows people to recognize that the term "Hispanic" encompasses a wide range of nationalities, languages, and cultures, including Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican. It emphasizes that being Hispanic is not a monolithic identity but a tapestry of various traditions, languages and histories.

Recognizing Contributions: Hispanic and Latinx Americans have made immense contributions to all facets of American society, including art, music, literature, science, politics and sports.

From Celia Cruz and Roberto Clemente to Sonia Sotomayor and Lin-Manuel Miranda, their influence is undeniable. National Hispanic Heritage Month provides an opportunity to highlight and celebrate these achievements.

Promoting Inclusivity: The observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month promotes inclusivity by fostering a sense of belonging among Hispanic and Latinx Americans. It encourages people to share their cultural heritage and educate others about their traditions. This inclusivity strengthens the fabric of American society by embracing the nation's multicultural identity.

Educational Opportunities: National Hispanic Heritage Month offers a unique opportunity for schools, colleges and communities to educate individuals about Hispanic and Latinx history and culture.

Through educational programs, exhibitions, lectures and performances, people can gain a deeper understanding of the contributions and challenges faced by these communities.

Strengthening Unity: While celebrating their unique cultural backgrounds, National Hispanic Heritage Month also fosters unity among Hispanic and Latinx Americans. It allows them to come together to celebrate their shared history and the collective strength that comes from their diverse backgrounds.

Recognizing the contributions of Latinx influences

Frida Kahlo, an iconic Mexican artist. Kahlo's life and art serve as a poignant representation of the rich cultural tapestry of Hispanic heritage. Born in 1907, Kahlo's works are deeply rooted in Mexican culture, reflecting its traditions, folklore and vibrant colors. Her self-portraits, characterized by their raw emotional depth, offer a unique glimpse into her personal struggles, physical pain and identity as a woman of Mexican descent.

Kahlo's impact extends beyond her artistic contributions. She was a feminist icon, defying societal norms of her time through her unapologetic self-expression and challenging gender roles. Her art and activism continue to inspire generations, making her a symbol of strength, resilience and pride within the Hispanic community.

During National Hispanic Heritage Month we should celebrate her legacy not only for her artistic brilliance but also for her enduring influence on Mexican and Hispanic identity, serving as a reminder of the power of art to connect, empower and honor cultural heritage.

Kahlo's significance during National Hispanic Heritage Month also extends to her role in bridging cultures and fostering understanding. Her art transcends borders and speaks to universal themes of pain, love, identity and human resilience. Kahlo's fusion of Indigenous Mexican symbolism with European artistic techniques creates a unique blend of cultures that resonates with people worldwide.

By celebrating her life and work during National Hispanic Heritage Month, we not only pay homage to her Mexican roots but also acknowledge the broader impact of Hispanic culture on the global stage. Kahlo's legacy serves as a reminder that diversity is a source of strength, and her art continues to inspire individuals of all backgrounds to embrace their heritage and express their authentic selves.

Another key Latinx influencer we want to celebrate during this time is Connecticut’s the Honorable Miguel Cardona.

Featuring Cardona as a prominent figure during National Hispanic Heritage Month, is an attempt to highlight the strength and resilience of the Hispanic community in the United States. Born to Puerto Rican parents, Cardona's journey from a humble background to his role as the U.S. Secretary of Education is a testament to the power of education and determination.

His appointment as the head of the U.S. Department of Education makes him one of the highest-ranking Hispanic officials in the nation.

Cardona's commitment to educational equity and access is deeply rooted in his Hispanic heritage.

He has advocated for students from all backgrounds to have equal opportunities to succeed, regardless of their socioeconomic status or ethnic identity. His focus on bilingual education and support for English language learners is particularly significant during National Hispanic Heritage Month, as it highlights the importance of preserving and celebrating linguistic diversity within the Hispanic community.

Beyond his policy initiatives, Cardona's personal story resonates with many, serving as an inspiration for young Hispanics across the United States.

His journey from being an English language learner himself to becoming a leading voice in American education underscores the value of hard work, education and the celebration of Hispanic heritage.

During this month and beyond, Cardona stands as a symbol of progress, representation, and advocacy for the Hispanic community in the United States.

His dedication to creating a more inclusive and equitable education system aligns with the broader goals of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is to recognize and honor the contributions and experiences of Hispanics in the United States.

How Quinnipiac will celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month

Included is list of events time and location of events at the university

In conclusion, National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the diverse and invaluable contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States.

It has its origins in a desire to recognize the rich heritage of these communities and acknowledge their profound impact on American society.

As we celebrate this month, let us remember that diversity is one of America's greatest strengths, and by honoring Hispanic heritage, we celebrate the mosaic of cultures that make this nation unique and vibrant.

So, whether you're enjoying traditional Hispanic cuisine, attending cultural events, or simply learning more about Hispanic history, let's all join in celebrating this important and enriching observance.

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