Hispanic Heritage - An Important Piece of the Patchwork of Lubbock and the United States
By Lindsey Diaz
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. It may seem odd to start a month-long celebration in the middle of the month, but there are reasons for this. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared independence from Spain on September 15, 1821. In addition, Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on September 16, Chile celebrates on September 18, and Belize on September 21.
Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988, to cover 30 days.
While you never have to wait for an annual event to take pride in your ethnic background, for Hispanic Americans, the purpose of those four weeks is to honor their respective cultures and the history behind them. And by "Hispanic Americans," we mean those who self-identify as Hispanic. (The terms Hispanic and Latino are not quite interchangeable, though many people identify as both.). The term Hispanic or Latino (or the more recent term Latinx) refers to a person's culture or origin—regardless of race.
Celebrating Hispanic heritage and dedicating time to recognizing other ethnicities and cultures reminds us that we are all together in this world.
Celebrating Hispanic heritage and dedicating time to recognizing other ethnicities and cultures reminds us that we are all together in this world. It is an opportunity for the community to learn more about the traditions, people, scholarship, history, and current experiences.
This month symbolizes how much Hispanic culture is 'American' culture and has been influential regarding traditions, culture, and language that are now native to our nation. For instance, the Día De Los Muertos and Cinco De Mayo traditions are now commercialized in the United States but have roots in traditions and celebrations that originated in México and across Latin America.
For me, this month is an opportunity to help highlight and educate. Too often, the focus is on music, parades, dancing, or other happy art forms but we also need to educate to reflect on our history. You can't assume that others already know about the lynchings in South Texas in the 1910s, the Zoot Suit Riots in 1943, the segregation of Mexican kids in schools, or the Chicano-led high school walkouts of the 1960s.
Julia Alvarez, Cesar E. Chavez, Selena Quintanilla, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Roberto Clemente, and Ellen Ochoa, are now part of American History, and more history is being written by current Hispanic artists, scholars, scientists, public servants, and others of the next generation.
Hispanic Americans have been integral to the patchwork of what is Lubbock and across the United States.
This is a time of year to recognize and reflect on the culture we should be proud of. Hispanic Americans have been integral to the patchwork of what is Lubbock and across the United States. Their contributions are immeasurable, and they embody the best of American values. As we reflect on this month, we must remember as Americans, Texans, and Lubbockites, this heritage is our heritage.
Lindsey Diaz is Chief of Staff for the Lubbock County Commissioner's Court and County Judge. She serves on United Way's Diversity Edquity and Inclusion Committee and is the Co-Chair for Lubbock County's United Way Campaign.