National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to observe the past and present achievements of Hispanics. Embracing the Fierce Urgency of Now, is this year’s theme. Many Hispanic Americans made an impact in this nation. After a much maligned nomination process, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court.
In her nomination speech, Justice Sotomayor exemplified what it means to serve the people and provide a backbone for others to thrive on, “I stand on the shoulders of countless people,” she said.
Grambling State Spanish Professor Dr. De Feo said that more Americans need to become aware of the contributions that every day Latinos make to the United States.
Dr. De Feo, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, said “It’s important to make sure people are aware of this,” he said.
Dr. De Feo said that people needed to recognize the growing numbers of Latinos, in addition to their hard work. He stressed strides that Latinos have made politically, economically and culturally.
Grambling State Spanish Professor and native of Guatemala City, Guatemala, Nancy Quinonez Reeves, said “It’s a month of recognition to Latinos and everything we have given to the U.S.”
“Salma Hayek, for example, opened doors (in the movie industry),” Reeves said.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is particularly special in large cities and areas such as New York City, Miami and parts of California where there are significant Latino communities, Reeves said.
Reeves said that she enjoys bringing the occasion to her students, but remembered that it wasn’t really celebrated when she lived in Guatemala.
The Grambling State foreign language department hosts heritage events on campus even though the Latino community in Grambling remains relatively small.
Grambling students often identify more with President Obama’s win, but the black community can’t take all the credit for his election.
Latinos, especially in the central Florida region voted for President Obama, said Dr. De Feo.
National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Every year a ceremony is held on Capital Hill to celebrate the occasion.
October marks the 23rd year of the annual Hispanic Heritage Foundation Awards to honor Latino Leaders. Six Latino leaders will be recognized for their additions and commitments in fields of study, as well as their communities.
“We are privileged to pay tribute to the 2009 Honorees who will certainly carry on the great tradition of past Honorees,” said HHF chairman Dr. Pedro Jose Greer Jr.
On Sept. 15, 1968, Congress pushed President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. President Ronald Reagan later extended it as a month long holiday.
National Hispanic Heritage month is an opportunity to celebrate American history.
Imani Jackson contributed to this report.