Xicana/o, Latina/o, Afro-Latina/o, Asian-Latina/o and Indigenous. Are all of these identities adequately recognized by Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) in September? Does it exclude the many Mestizos living in the diaspora for two or three generations, who no longer speak their native tongues? Does the term need to be updated to Latinx Heritage Month to include both The People and their gender identity?
While we celebrate our heritage this month, there are many other questions worth pondering.
Is HHM simply a Band-Aid to cover the catastrophic history of colonization between Indigenous Peoples and Spanish bloodlines in this land? Can HHM acknowledge or address the current political climate of our United States—and the human right crisis festering inside the camps on our southern borders, or those in our own state and around the country? I will leave that for you to decide.
Origins of HHM
What I can tell you is how it started. HHM was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 as a weeklong celebration. The week commemorated the following dates:
- September 15 marks independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
- September 16 marks Mexico’s independence from Spain, and not May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) as most Americans believe.
- September 18 marks the independence of Chile.
In 1987, Congressional Representative Esteban Torres pushed for a month-long commemoration and was denied. August 17, 1988—one year later—Senator Paul Simon presented a similar measure, and it was approved and signed in to law by President Ronald Reagan.
The intent of HHM was for the American populous to know Our rich, diverse heritage, and to learn of the legacy We share with the United States. I can also tell you that I personally have not connected deeply with HHM prior to doing a significant amount of self-exploration onto whose shoulders I stand; the many people who shed blood, and the many people who sat in jail cells to provide me with agency, access to this institution of higher education, and control over my education.
Why is Representation Important on Our Campus?
FRCC-Westminster’s Latinx enrollment is 29%, and our Brighton campus is even higher at 47%. Our enrollment data is important because it exhibits our financial contribution to FRCC.
Nationally, less than 5% of “people that look like us” are represented in higher education jobs. Only 22% of Latinx people who enroll in higher education will obtain degrees.
Therefore, a strong sense of community—and events that demonstrate our place of belonging in higher education—are imperative. We are not imposters in this landscape. We can realize our potential in a space that acknowledges our cultural contributions to society, through art, science, politics, and history.
The quote below addresses the struggle for representation, education and the importance of Our history:
“I must fight
and win this struggle
for my sons, and they
must know from me
who I am.”
Influential Latinas/os to Remember and Honor
Latin People have made many significant contributions to society. This timeline of important dates in American history is a starting point—but the history goes much deeper and I encourage you to do the work and know the lessons of the people that came before you.
Below are a handful of names that you may—or may not—know much about. Click on the links below to familiarize yourself with these important figures in American history.
- Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales—Boxer, poet/writer, political activist (Crusade for Justice, Chicano Movement)
- Delores Huerta—Labor organizer and civil rights activist (United Farm Workers Movement)
- Cezar Chavez—Civil rights leader, labor and community organizer, social entrepreneur (United Farm Workers Movement)
- Joaquín Murrieta—Revolutionary, “Robin Hood of the West”
- José Vasconcelos—Philosopher, author and politician
- Sandra Cisneros—Author, poet, and artist/performer
- José Martí—Revolutionary philosopher, professor and poet
Celebrating HHM On Campus
FRCC’s LATINX Student Organization, in partnership with the Westminster campus’ student life team, will be hosting a presentation with introductions by President Andy Dorsey, Vice President Cathy Pellish and a key note speech by Dr. Ramon Del Castillo—Professor of Chicano Studies (and former Chair of the department) at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
When: October 15, 2019 at 2:30-3:30 pm
Where: FRCC-Westminster, 3645 W. 112th Avenue
(Rocky Mountain Room)
This event is open to all students, faculty and staff.
Fall 2019 LATINX Student Organization Events
FRCC’s LATINX student group has planned a number of events for this school year to celebrate Latino heritage. Weekly meetings occur every Monday during the semester from 11:30am to 12:30 pm in the Student Organizations Center. We hope you can join us—and stay tuned to the FRCC event calendar for more details on these upcoming events:
- October – CineLatino, Denver Film Festival
- October – Get Out the Vote
- November – Dia Los Muertos @ CHAC Gallery
- Spring 2020 – CCCS Latinx Student Organization Summit