September 15th marked the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which will run through October 15. During this month to come, schools, government, businesses and organizations have an opportunity to recognize and celebrate members of our communities whose ancestors hail from Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, Central and South America and Spain.
Why would this commemorative month start on September 15th rather than the 1st? According to CNN.com, there is a very good reason for this choice of dates:
“Rather than starting at the beginning of September, Hispanic Heritage Month takes place over 30 days starting on the 15th — a nod to the anniversaries of national independence for a number of Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all recognize September 15 as the date of their independence, while Mexico’s independence is celebrated September 16 and Chile celebrates its independence September 18.”
Hispanic Heritage Month began 53 years ago, in 1968, with a week-long observance. At that time, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill and issued a proclamation about the contributions made by people of Hispanic descent. According to the CNN article, that was a period when, “Chicanos in the Southwest, Mexican Americans, Latinos across the country were demanding greater inclusion and representation politically, culturally, socially, and economically.” It was time for their important role in the United States to be recognized. Nearly 20 years later, under President Ronald Regan, the week was expanded to Hispanic Heritage Month.
The theme of the 2021 Hispanic Heritage Month was announced by the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM) as follows: “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” At their website, Ms. Adroma Castillo speaks to the choice of theme:
“Humanity is going through very painful moments caused by the pandemic, but we must remember that after the storm comes the calm. In this portrait, we can appreciate a hand that raises the flags of Hispanics together with people of different ethnicities looking towards a majestic rainbow that represents Hope. “Esperanza!” The thing that characterizes us as Hispanics is that no matter what storms we go through, we always look up and know that life will be dressed in colors like a shiny rainbow in the sky.
“The infinity ribbon design was inspired by the theme, Hispanics: Be Proud of Your Past and Embrace the Future. The greatness of America can be measured by the collective contributions of its citizens past and present, and our future will be measured by our ability to uphold and instill unto others our most valuable assets: our shared culture, history, knowledge, and sense of community. As Hispanics, taking pride in the accomplishments and achievements of our mentors and our ancestors brings into focus the endless possibilities available to us today and boosts our capacity for embracing the future. This is our infinite cycle.”
As with other commemorations of a special month of learning and appreciation, AMS recognizes that Hispanic Heritage should be appreciated and celebrated every day and every month, at all times of the year.
Among our over 600 employees, 344 have identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino! We have offered free, on-campus English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for a number of years with dozens of graduates. There are 29 graduates so far in 2021. AMS is also excited to launch Spanish Learning for Leaders in the Fall in order to improve communication and advance equity and inclusivity in the workplace.
In 2022 AMS will continue to provide ESL classes and Spanish Learning, in order to bring us closer as ONE. In addition to education and training, AMS appreciates the Hispanic Heritage of our employees by contracting with one of our favorite local businesses, LaCo Taco, for employee recognition and celebration lunches.
Here below we have placed links to resources made available to inform and help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
PBS’ documentary series on Latino America
Podcast “Latino USA”
Resources from the Smithsonian:
Profiles of Latino patriots in military history:
Hispanic Heritage Month events from dot gov:
The 2021 proclamation at whitehouse dot gov.