For the next month, from September 15 through October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month will be celebrated across America. This national observance recognizes the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the group's heritage and culture.
Like Black History Month, it began as a week and was later extended to a month. Hispanic Heritage Week was sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Los Angeles), and first proclaimed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Rep. Esteban E. Torres (D-Pico Rivera) wrote a bill expanding the observance to a full month, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan 20 years later in 1988.
It’s interesting that the legislation was sponsored by two California lawmakers and implemented by a president from California.
Historically, September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in 1921. Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21, respectively.
In the U.S., the commemorative month is celebrated by community festivals and educational activities. The beauty of National Hispanic Heritage Month lies in its ability to share cultural activities and educate non-Hispanics. And when people of all races and backgrounds appreciate the customs of a particular group, everyone’s life is made richer.
From food to music, holiday traditions or historical figures—where there is mutual respect, there is less prejudice and propensity for violence. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month or any other cultural observance reminds us that we all want the same basic things—love, respect, honor, and opportunities to live a decent life. It is our basic right as human beings.
With the renewed enthusiasm for White Supremacy and Neo Nazism, there has never been a better time to demonstrate the power of tolerance and diversity. We in Inglewood have an opportunity to show the world that brown, black and white people can and do live peacefully side by side.
Progress made in the city is not only a result of economic development, but a favorable living environment. There is no doubt that when the NFL and other large investors considered coming to Inglewood, they didn’t just look at the location, but the people within this city. The racial and political climate can make or break a city. As much as Inglewood is ideally located, has great leadership and nice weather year ’round, I doubt investors would take a second look if Inglewood had been known for race riots.
To all of my Hispanic friends, Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!