National Hispanic Heritage Month: Let’s give Hispanic history the respect it deserves
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the history of Hispanic communities, though their impacts on the history of Oregon and the United States deserve recognition year-round.
This annual recognition began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968, and 20 years later was expanded to the month that it is today. Instead of spanning just one month start to finish, Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th of each year and ends on October 15. These dates represent the independence of Latin American nations from Spain:
- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua became independent on Sept. 15, 1821
- Mexico on Sept. 16, 1810
- Chile on Sept. 18, 1810.
Various Latin American nations have made their mark on Oregon’s history. One such nation is Mexico.
Historically, there have been many Mexican migrant workers in the western United States. Making up a significant part of the Hispanic population in Oregon, these workers—often filling critical jobs such as railroad work and farming—endured numerous injustices, ranging from dangerous working conditions to the possibility of deportation. In fact, somewhere between 400k and 2 million Hispanic workers were deported during the Great Depression. This was a prejudiced action for which the United States government has never apologized.
Despite such injustices, Mexican Americans as well as other Latin Americans who trace their heritage to a variety of different countries, have contributed a great deal to the culture of the United States, bringing their own diverse traditions, practices, and languages across the border.
To honor these people who have contributed so much to our culture and history, look further into the history that informs all they have brought to the United States, and the world. Continue to learn this history, and in doing so, respect it and the diverse group of people and cultures that continue to make it.
The theme for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation”. In practicing inclusivity and by giving Hispanic history the respect it deserves, we can strengthen the future of both Hispanic Americans and the nation in which they live.
Anna Janowski is a teen volunteer at the Beaverton City Library (grade 12). Outside of school, she likes to read, write, play softball and the trumpet.