Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th-October 15th, is celebrated annually to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Heritage month initially was just a week and was started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson. The week was expanded to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The month starts on September 15th because it is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries including El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.
Furthermore, Chile and Mexico’s independence day is celebrated just one day later on September 16th. This month is an important time to recognize important Hispanic leaders and how the Latino population in the U.S. is making positive contributions to the country.
It is important to especially recognize Latina women as they have had such a positive impact on feminism, and U.S. politics. Sor Juana Inês de la Cruz was a 17th-century, Mexican-born Feminist writer. She was considered a pioneer of women’s rights in a time where gender equality and feminism were not understood concepts. Her most famous work is named “Respuesta a Sor Filotea” which discussed that women deserve a right to education. Sor Juana Inês de la Cruz has paved the way for women, particularly Latinas, in showing that it is important to discuss important and difficult topics, even if they are not commonly understood.
Today in the United States we have many important Latina women working in the government including Sonia Sotomayor, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Catherine Cortez Masto. Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and third woman to hold the position of justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Sotomayor is known for her call to reform the criminal justice system and her opinions regarding issues like sexism, racism, and ethnic identity.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest congresswoman in United States history, is known for her progressive platform on which she discusses gender equality, abolishing I.C.E, proposing a Green New Deal to help combat climate change, and poverty. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not afraid to question problematic systems that have been in place for many years and to call out racist and sexist comments made by politicians and others.
Catherina Cortez Masto is a politician and lawyer serving as the United States senator of Nevada. She is well known as an advocate for women, seniors, and children. She is also working to pass legislation to strengthen women’s health care.
It is evident that representation, particularly in places like the government where many decisions are being made daily, is very important. It is inspiring to see these Latina women work towards what is right. While the U.S. government still has a long way to becoming more diverse and inclusive, it is important to recognize how much Latinos, particularly Hispanic Women, are positively impacting American politics during Hispanic Heritage Month.