National Hispanic Heritage Month is recognized each year between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. This is a time to honor the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The Hispanic Heritage observance began in 1968 when Congress designated Hispanic Heritage Week on Sept. 15 to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. It was later expanded to 30 days of celebration in 1988 during the Reagan administration.
The Sept. 15 date is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
In our labor movement, Hispanic leaders and activists have shaped the course of history and contributed greatly to bettering the lives of all working people. From Dolores Huerta to Linda Chavez-Thompson and the countless activists leading our movement today, it is truly an honor to witness the advancements made by our diverse movement.
AFGE’s Hispanic Coalition (HISCO) has also been a vital and active coalition within AFGE. HISCO supports professional advancement, leadership development and educational opportunities for AFGE members of Hispanic origin.
Join us in celebrating Hispanic Americans and their many great contributions to our nation’s prosperity and labor movement.
Here are 4 ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!
1. Learn about Hispanic-led labor strikes that changed America and improved our lives
Hispanic workers have played a major role in the labor movement. Learn about the 1903 Oxnard strike, the 1933 El Monte berry strike, the 1938 pecan shellers’ strike, the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, and the 2003 Immokalee workers’ hunger strike and how they changed America.
2. Join or support groups that advocate for Hispanic Americans
Check out CARECEN, Washington, D.C.’s oldest Salvadoran created and led organization. Since 1981, the organization has helped Latino immigrants transition into an integrated life in their new home.
Our very own Health and Safety Specialist Milly Rodriguez had been on its board for decades and just stepped down as president. She will be receiving the community service award at the organization’s annual event in October.
If health care is important to you, make a donation to Mary’s Center, a network of community health care centers in D.C. and Maryland. It was founded in 1988 by Maria S. Gomez to help immigrant women fleeing war and poverty in Central America.
On the national level, there is UnidosUS, an advocacy organization.
On the labor side, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, an AFL-CIO group, advocates for Latino workers and union members. LCLAA has chapters in many states and work nationwide on Latinos in labor issues and community issues.
The Dolores Huerta Foundation is another good organization with labor ties and includes work on registering and educating voters, as does Voto Latino.
3. Participate in events celebrating Hispanic Americans and cultures
Check out virtual workshops, parties, concerts, panel discussions, and more. The National Gallery of Art, for example, features Frida Kahlo in its Gallery Talks series. The Smithsonian is hosting a Latino Heritage Festival Family Day and Concert. See America through the Latino experience at the National Museum of the American Latino.
4. Support Latino-owned businesses
Supporting Latino-owned businesses is a great way to celebrate the Heritage Month. A few lists of businesses to consider from NBC News, Oprah Daily, and Good Housekeeping.