September 15th marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage month in the United States. Hispanic culture is deeply ingrained not only in American society as a whole, but in our local community. New Jersey is one of 13 States in the nation with a Hispanic-American population of over 1 million. As the largest ethnic minority group in the US of roughly 62 million people, it’s no surprise that Hispanic-American culture is prominent and thriving today. There is a rich history of influential figures that have helped integrate Hispanic culture into American life, both past and present. This month, Bowman & Company LLP encourages you to join us in celebration of Hispanic-American culture & achievement.
Hispanic Heritage Month’s origins
National Hispanic Heritage month begins on September 15th. This date honors one of the most important events in North American history: the start of the Mexican War of Independence. This month of recognition begins on the eve of “The Cry of Dolores”, which occurred on the 16th of September, 1810. In the early morning hours, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla – a priest in Dolores, Mexico – rang the bells of his church as a call-to-arms against the Spanish empire. “The Cry of Dolores” is known to locals as El Grito de Independencia, or the Cry of Independence. Representative Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles established the first US recognition period of Hispanic heritage, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. It was expanded from its original week long period to a month of recognition in 1988 by Representative Esteban Edward Torres and President Ronald Reagan.
Influential Hispanic Figures
In our highest levels of government, Hispanic-Americans have made great progress in both representation as well as policy. Joseph Marion Hernandez of Florida was the first Hispanic-American Delegate to the US Congress in 1822. The first full-term serving Hispanic-American congressional Representative to represent a US State was Romualdo Pacheco, who won his highly contested election in California by a singular vote. Since these early days of Hispanic-American representation, over 137 others have served in the chambers of Congress (6 incumbent Senators and 40 incumbent Representatives). In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic-American Supreme Court Associate Justice, nominated by President Barack Obama.
In social and political activism, Hispanic-American figures have left a significant impact. Particularly in labor and civil rights, few others can be compared to the legacies of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. These monumental activists were instrumental to the foundation and/or rise of influence of the Community Service Organization, the Agricultural Worker’s Association, the National Farm Worker’s Association, and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Both are recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The list of dominant Hispanic-American athletes in American sports is too numerous to count. Just in Major League Baseball alone, there is great history of Hispanic Athletes. After Luis Miguel Castro became the first Hispanic player in the MLB with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902, countless all-time greats have followed: Roberto Clemente, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, and many of today’s current stars. 4-time NBA champion and Naismith HOF inductee Manu Ginobili, of Argentinian descent, was a crucial player of the San Antonio Spur’s championship dynasty. Tony Gonzales is one of the greatest Tight Ends to have ever played in the NFL, finishing his career as a 14-time pro bowler and an inductee of the Pro Football HOF.
In popular culture & the arts, there is no shortage of Hispanic cultural icons. From Rita Moreno to Jennifer Lopez, talented actors, musicians, and artists have dominated the entertainment space in the United States. Lin-Manuel Miranda has accumulated multiple Tony awards in recent years for his incredibly popular musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. Hispanic-American authors have achieved critical success, including Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents).
While it is impossible to summarize the entirety of Hispanic American achievement in one article, it is important to share the stories of notable Hispanic figures so that their legacies can be remembered, celebrated, and continued. On a local scale, Hispanic-Americans positively impact our South Jersey communities every day. Take this month to celebrate the achievements of this diverse community on the world stage as well as in our own cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
At Bowman & Company LLP, we strive to make our workplace and our community accessible & prosperous to people of all cultures, ethnicities, and values. We value diversity and encourage our employees to share their lived experiences to elevate our collective understanding of the workplace, our business, and the world in general. Bowman & Company LLP is an equal opportunity employer. Click the button below to visit our Diversity & Inclusion web page.
References & further reading
- Grito de Dolores | Encyclopedia Britannica – britannica.com
- Hispanic History Milestones: Timeline – history.com
- History, Art & Archives | House of Representatives: Hispanic Americans in Congress – history.house.gov