Social Media Editor
People all over the country, and all over the Island university, are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, which continues through Oct. 15. The month is set aside in recognition of Hispanic Americans who have contributed to our nation.
Hispanic Heritage Month stems from the September and October anniversaries of independence in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. The observation began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and was expanded by law in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.
Our campus has an extensive event lineup to celebrate Hispanic culture on the Island. The Islander Cultural Alliance, the University Center (UC) and Student Activities introduced this year’s holiday on campus with a Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff on Sept. 13 in the University Center. The event included mariachis, food and entertainment.
The Mary and Jeff Bell Library has also joined the campus-wide celebration with displays of books, films and other materials that highlight the rich and diverse influence of the Hispanic community, including the papers of Dr. Hector P. Garcia.
TAMU-CC exhibits a beautiful monument to the late Dr. Hector P. Garcia, a Mexican-American medical doctor, World War II veteran and civil rights leader who founded the GI Forum and provided health care to thousands of low-income, Mexican-American families. The GI Forum is a national program for veterans’ issues, education and civil rights.
The city of Corpus Christi is a destination for Latino History. In 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was established in Corpus Christi to bring an end to racial discrimination against Hispanics. The group battled historic moments in the Mexican-American civil rights movement. LULAC is the oldest surviving Latino civil rights organization in the nation.
Dr. Carlos Huerta, a Political Science professor at TAMU-CC, shares the importance of knowing the history of Hispanic civil rights movements and xenophobia we are witnessing today in Trump’s presidency.
“The Hispanic civil rights groups founded in Corpus Christi,” said Huerta, “LULAC and American GI Forum, were founded primarily by Mexican-Americans. The fact that two major civil rights groups were founded in Corpus Christi informs us that discrimination was severe in our area.
“Many gains were made in civil rights, yet there are folks today that are pushing back against civil rights, and it is important that all of us speak up and push back against xenophobia. There are many who like to think that we can’t regress — they are mistaken.”
In light of recent American political events, citizens of the country are battling divisive opinions. Organizers say cultural celebrations such as Hispanic Heritage Month matter significantly in creating a collective approach to teaching Hispanic history to one another and ourselves. These celebrations aren’t just “cute” themes for parties, but rather serve as affirmations that Hispanic culture has existed in the United States for a long time.
“One question we can ask ourselves is about our own university’s role,” said Huerta. “We have a beautiful campus on the Texas Gulf Coast in the city of Selena. However, we often see Hawaiian themes and imagery on our campus instead of Coastal South Texas. What does that say about how we view ourselves and what message are we sending? Our own culture and history are not being embraced, instead we’re using symbols from another ocean and culture. Luaus, leis and Aloha Days? That’s not embracing the Mexican-American/Hispanic culture of our campus and community.”
Cultural awareness serves as a reminder that the nation belongs to everyone. The involvement of starting businesses, building families, forming agricultural industries, creating art, along with the continuous fight for civil rights in American courts is the rich story of Hispanic heritage intertwined with the American narrative.
If you want to join in on the celebrations on campus, there are still events planned until Oct. 17, including: Tejano Justice League Speaker Series on Oct. 9, Hispanic Film Series on Oct. 10, and Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon on Oct. 11.