February is Black History Month. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.
Black History Week was created in February 1926 by Carter Woodson. February was chosen for the initial week-long observance because it coincides with the birthdays’ of former President Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and reformer Frederick Douglass (February 14). Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery.
In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However it wasn’t until Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 that the country began to observe it formally.
While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, George Washington Carver, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, there are countless other African Americans here locally who have made a profound impact on history, including our own Justice Richard T. Fields, who was the first African-American judicial officer in Riverside County, and Judge Irma Asberry, who was the first African-American woman to be judge in Riverside County. Other influential African-Americans here locally include:
Please join us in observing Black History Month.
Sunday, February 19, 2023
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, "Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas." Although the Order did not name any ethnic group, General John L. DeWitt implemented confinement of Japanese and Japanese Americans across the country. Within six months, about 122,000 people lived in so-called "internment camps."
On February 18, 2022, a Presidential Proclamation was issued reaffirming the Federal Government's formal apology to Japanese-Americans whose lives were affected by this chapter in history and proclaiming February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese-American Incarceration during World War II. We learn these facts from websites and books. But to steal a political aphorism, all history is local. We'd like to highlight a couple of local stories that show triumph over tragedy.
Judge Ben Kayashima retired from our sister court, San Bernardino County. Although he was held at the Japanese internment camp in Parker, Arizona, he later served with distinction in the United States Army, earning the Combat Infantryman's badge in Korea. He graduated from UCLA, then Hastings College of the Law. He joined the bench in 1980 and served with distinction until 2013.
Justice Stephen K. Tamura served this community on the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division Two. While imprisoned in Poston, Arizona, Justice Tamura requested that the War Relocation Authority allow him to study at Harvard Law School. Instead of immediately practicing law, Justice Tamura enlisted in the Army and served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, one of the most highly decorated military units. Justice Tamura was Orange County's first Asian-American attorney, its first Asian-American judge, and the first Asian-American state appellate court justice in the country.
Please join us in observing our Day of Remembrance for the confined Japanese and celebrating our local heroes' achievements despite their confinement.
Thursday, October 18, 2022
Filipino American History Month (FAHM) is celebrated in the United States during the month of October. October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587. In California, FAHM was first recognized statewide in 2006 and on September 9, 2009, the California State Assembly voted to “designate the month of October 2009, and every October thereafter, as Filipino American History Month”.
Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American group in the nation and the third-largest minority ethnic group in California, after Latinx and African Americans.
The Philippines, a long-standing Spanish Colony, was ceded by Spain to the U.S after the Spanish-American War in 1898. After becoming a U.S. Colony, a mass migration began in the years from 1900-1934.
The demand for labor in California farmlands attracted thousands of Filipino immigrants. The immigrants came to California to pursue a better future, with jobs and education. Many of the Filipino immigrants at that time found agriculture work in the Central Valley of California. By 1920, the City of Stockton had an area known as Little Manila that stretched for several blocks off El Dorado Street in Downtown Stockton. Stockton became the hub for Filipino Americans.
According to PBS Wisconsin, “Little Manila was filled with chop suey houses, gambling dens and dance halls and was in the area of Stockton notoriously called Skid Row, but it was also the closest thing Filipinos had to a downtown. Below is a link to a film narrated by famed Filipino American producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, The Patriot); this documentary; “Little Manila: Filipinos in California’s Heartland” tells the immigrant story as Filipinos experienced it.”
ViewFinder | Little Manila: Filipinos in California's Heartland | Season 5 | Episode 10 | PBS (external site )
Thursday, October 6, 2022
LGBT History Month is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. It was founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school history teacher Rodney Wilson. Many organizations supported the concept early on as did various governors and mayors, who recognized the inaugural month with official proclamations. In 1995, the National Education Association indicated support of LGBT History Month as well as other history months by resolution at its General Assembly. LGBT History Month focuses on the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month in June, on the other hand, originated with the 1969 Stonewall Uprising and is about uplifting the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Pride is more focused on the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, whereas LGBT History Month focuses on honoring the past.
LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community. As of 2022, LGBT History Month is a month-long celebration that is specific to Australia, Canada, Cuba, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, United Kingdom and the US. In the United States it is celebrated in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on October 11 and to commemorate the first and second marches on Washington in 1979 and 1987 for LGBT rights. The month now also includes Spirit Day on October 20, on which people around the country wear purple in support of LGBT youth; Ally Week, a week in which allies against LGBT bullying are celebrated; and the anniversary of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard’s murder on October 12, 1998, which led to the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009.
In 2006, the civil rights organization Equality Forum became the official organizer and promoter of the month. Each year, Equality Forum selects 31 icons to honor, one for each day. This year’s icons can be found at https://lgbthistorymonth.com/.
Thursday, September 22, 2022
Native American Day acknowledges the tragic history of this country’s indigenous people while also celebrating their culture and history of accomplishment and resilience. It is a day to honor those who have been a part of the American tradition even before this country formed as a nation. In 1939, California Governor Culbert Olson declared October 1 to be "Indian Day", making this state the first to honor this holiday. In 1968, Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for a holiday called American Indian Day, to be held the Fourth Friday in September. In 1998, the California Assembly renamed the holiday Native American Day and in 2021 it became an official state holiday, designated annually on the fourth Friday in September. This year it falls on September 23rd.
Observance of this holiday reminds us of the persecution and tragedy Native Americans have suffered throughout our history. It also serves as an opportunity for all to understand the genocide that occurred and how our indigenous people persisted despite horrific adversity. Moreover, the day is about celebrating the irreplaceable heritage, contributions, and culture of the Native American populations. Native American Day is about appreciating the long history and traditions that Native Americans have preserved through the centuries.
Native American contribution to our Western culture is seen throughout public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields integral to our society. Native Americans have served, and continue to serve, in the United States Armed Forces with distinction and honor defending our security every day.
Native American Day reminds us of the enduring legacy of fortitude, energy and strength of our indigenous people.
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities. The event, which spans from September 15 to October 15, commemorates how those communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large.
Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a commemorative week when it was first introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley. The push to recognize the contributions of the Latinx community had gained momentum throughout the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of the United States' multicultural identities. On September 17, 1968, Congress officially authorized and requested the president to issue annual proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called upon the “people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation the same day.
The timing of Hispanic Heritage Week/Month coincides with the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American nations including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile, and most recently Belize.
From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan all issued the yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a law that expanded the observance to cover its current 31-day period, so that the nation could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.” On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. “Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities,” Bush said.
In the decades since, National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamations have been made by every sitting president of the United States. The month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. Hispanic Heritage Month 2022 will last from Thursday, September 15, 2022 through Saturday, October 15, 2022.
August 26, 2022
In 1973 the Congress established August 26th as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. The Amendment granted women the right to vote, and came after decades of protest and a civil rights movement that started at the first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. The origins of the movement are described as follows:
“… [T]he push for rights for women had taken root during the Civil War, as women backed the United States armies with their money, buying bonds and paying taxes; with their loved ones, sending sons and husbands and fathers to the war front; with their labor, working in factories and fields, and taking over from men in the nursing and teaching professions; and even with their lives, spying and fighting for the Union. In the aftermath of the war, as the divided nation was rebuilt, many of them expected they would have a say in how it was reconstructed.
But to their dismay, the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly tied the right to vote to “males,” inserting that word into the Constitution for the first time.
Boston abolitionist Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was outraged. The laws of the age gave control of her property and her children to her abusive husband, and while far from a rabble-rouser, she wanted the right to adjust those laws so they were fair. In this moment, it seemed the right the Founders had articulated in the Declaration of Independence—the right to consent to the government under which one lived—was to be denied to the very women who had helped preserve the country, while white male Confederates and now Black men both enjoyed that right. ‘The Civil War came to an end, leaving the slave not only emancipated, but endowed with the full dignity of citizenship. The women of the North had greatly helped to open the door which admitted him to freedom and its safeguard, the ballot. Was this door to be shut in their face?’ Howe wondered.
The next year, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, and six months later, Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe founded the American Woman Suffrage Association.” Prof. Heather Cox Richardson, Letters From an American (Aug. 18, 2022).
The battle for voting equality would continue for years, with the two suffrage associations eventually merging, and initially found success in the western territories, areas that were looking to draw women to the largely male-dominated towns, but also to weaken the push for implementing Black voting rights (12 states/territories granted by 1920). The movement turned to the courts, as well: denied inclusion under the Fifteenth Amendment, suffragists fought for the right as “citizens” under the Fourteenth Amendment. In the 1872 election Susan B. Anthony successfully voted, setting up her conviction—in an all-male courtroom in which she did not have the right to testify—for the crime of doing so. This was followed by the 1875 Supreme Court (unanimous) decision determining that while women were citizens, such status did not afford them the right to vote. Of course, the same decision paved the way for restricting Black Americans in the South from access to the polls, as well. The movement continued, though, with focus by many of the suffragist organizations on local issues that would promote public health, morals and safety, as well as civil rights. With state movement occurring slowly, though, suffragists shifted their strategy toward pressure at the federal level, even staging a parade the day before President Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, President Wilson finally stood in support of constitutional amendment, questioning Congress: “Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?” In May and June of 1919 the House and Senate passed the amendment, respectively, and once Tennessee ratified the amendment on August 18, 1920—the 36th state signaling the three-quarters necessary for ratification—the Secretary of State certification on August 26th effectively altered the American electorate forever: 26-million American women had the right to vote in the 1920 presidential election. Of course, the struggle for women of color would continue for 45-more years as Jim Crow and Juan Crow laws continued to bar them from the polls.
Women’s Equality Day recognizes passage of the 19th Amendment, but serves as a reminder that full equality for women is an ongoing pursuit. See the full article from Prof. Heather Cox Richardson (external site ).
Friday, May 20, 2022
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) (as of 2009 officially changed from Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month) is observed in the United States during the month of May, and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The AAPI includes cultures from the entire Asian continent—including East, Southeast and South Asia—and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
The effort to officially recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions to the United States began in the late 1970s, and took over 10 years to make it a permanent month-long celebration. A former congressional staffer in the 1970s, Jeanie Jew, first approached Representative Frank Horton with the idea of designating a month to recognize Asian Pacific Americans, following the bicentennial celebrations. In June 1977 Representatives Horton, and Norman Y. Mineta, introduced a United States House of Representatives resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian- Pacific Heritage Week.
The proposed resolutions sought that May be designated for two reasons. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.
President Jimmy Carter signed a joint resolution for the celebration on October 5, 1978. May was annually designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992 under the George H. W. Bush administration with the passing of Public Law 102-540 (external site pdf ). On May 1, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Proclamation 8369, recognizing the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured and overcome hardship and heartache. In the earliest years, tens of thousands of Gold Rush pioneers, coal miners, transcontinental railroad builders, as well as farm and orchard laborers, were subject to unjust working conditions, prejudice, and discrimination—yet they excelled. Even in the darkness of the Exclusion Act and Japanese internment, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have persevered, providing for their families and creating opportunities for their children. Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2009, as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon the people of the United States to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.”
For more information on AAPI month please click on the links below.
Friday, April 15, 2022
#42 Changed the World
Jackie Robinson’s success on the playing field paved the way for widespread integration.
Today marks the 75th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s integration by Jackie Robinson, whose success extended far beyond the playing field. From his pivotal role in the “noble experiment” to open the league to Black players to becoming a model for widespread integration, Jackie Robinson changed the world.
Here are a number of ways you can commemorate this historic occasion with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Visit our “Celebrating Jackie” webpage, where you can:
Learn more about Jackie at the National Museum of African American History & Culture Website (external site ).
“He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
After Robinson’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1962
February 19th is a significant date for the Japanese-American community. On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the U.S. Army to remove civilians from the military zones established in Washington, Oregon, and California during WWII. This led to the forced removal and incarceration of some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, who had to abandon their jobs, their homes, and their lives to be sent to one of ten concentration camps scattered in desolate, remote regions of the country.
The prison camps ended in 1945 following the Supreme Court decision, Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo. The justices ruled unanimously that the War Relocation Authority “has no authority to subject citizens who are concededly loyal to its leave procedure.” The last Japanese internment camp closed in March of 1946. President Gerald Ford officially repealed Executive Order 9066 in 1976 and in 1988, Congress issued a formal apology and passed the Civil Liberties Act awarding $20,000 each to over 80,000 Japanese Americans as reparations for their treatment.
On February 18, 2022, a Presidential Proclamation (external site ) was issued reaffirming the Federal Government's formal apology to Japanese-Americans whose lives were affected by this chapter in history and proclaiming February 19, 2022, as a Day of Remembrance of Japanese-American Incarceration during World War II.
Friday, February 4, 2022
February is Black History Month. Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.
Black History Week was created in February 1926 by Carter Woodson. February was chosen for the initial week‐long observance because it coincides with the birthdays’ of former President Abraham Lincoln(February 12) and reformer Frederick Douglass(February 14). Both men played a significant role in helping to end slavery
In 1976 President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too‐often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” However it wasn’t until Congress passed “National Black History Month” into law in 1986 that the country began to observe it formally.
While Black History Month is synonymous with prominent figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. (external site ), Harriet Tubman (external site ), Rosa Parks (external site ), Muhammad Ali (external site ), Jackie Robinson (external site ), Langston Hughes (external site ), Maya Angelou (external site ), George Washington Carver (external site ), Oprah Winfrey (external site ) and Barack Obama (external site ), there are countless other African Americans who've made a profound impact in history:
Madam C.J. Walker Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty in the South to become one of the wealthiest African American women of her time. She used her position to advocate for the advancement of black Americans and for an end to lynching
Daniel Hale Williams was an American general surgeon, who in 1893 performed what is referred to as "the first successful heart surgery”.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the U.S House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York
Thurgood Marshall was the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, he served on the court from 1967 to 1991.
Mae Carol Jemison became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS‐47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
Alice Ball was an African American chemist who developed the first successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy).
Thomas Jennings invented dry cleaning in 1820, he was the first African American to be granted a patent. For more information visit the National Museum of African American History & Culture Website (external site ).
Thursday, January 27, 2022
International Holocaust Remembrance Day or the International Day of Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is held on January 27 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minority groups by Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945.
The United Nations General Assembly chose January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day since this was the date Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.
On this annual day of commemoration the UN urges every member state to honor the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.
For 2022 a virtual ceremony will be presented by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where Holocaust survivors will reflect on and honor the lives of the targeted Jewish people, other victims and those individuals who chose to help. (ushmm.org (external site ))
One can also join the conversation and share their reflections on social media using #HolocaustRemembranceDay and follow the Museum on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to honor victims and survivors all year long.
“The International Day of memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.” Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon January 2008.
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
On October 29, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden proclaimed November 2021 as National Native American Heritage Month, stating:
“Native American roots are deeply embedded in this land — a homeland loved, nurtured, strengthened, and fought for with honor and conviction. This month and every month, we honor the precious, strong, and enduring cultures and contributions of all Native Americans and recommit ourselves to fulfilling the full promise of our Nation together.”
Some prominent Native American contributors to our society include:
Maria Tallchief (external site ), a prima ballerina who was part of the New York City Ballet. She performed in a number of George Balanchine’s ballets as well as theaters in Paris, Russia, and throughout the United States. A member of the Osage Nation, she remained active in the community and was given the name “Princess Wa‐Txthe‐thonba” meaning “the Woman of Two Standards.”
Joy Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the first Native American Poet Laureate. An award‐ winning author of six books, she has worked to highlight the work of other Native American writers through her Living Nations Living Words (external site ) project. A talented musician as well, Harjo brought her saxophone to her first poetry reading (external site ) at the Library of Congress.
The WWII Navajo Code Talkers created a code based on the complex, unwritten Navajo language. The Code Talkers participated in every major Marine operation in the Pacific theater, giving the Marines a critical advantage throughout the war. During the nearly month‐long battle for Iwo Jima, six Navajo Code Talker Marines successfully transmitted more than 800 messages without error and were critical to the victory at Iwo Jima. At the end of the war, the Navajo Code remained unbroken. Veterans History Project (VHP) has collected and highlighted the work of Native American soldiers within its collections: Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Americans (external site ) in addition to resources on the Navajo Code Talkers (external site ) and the new Native American Veterans Memorial (external site ).
Billy Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation from Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Surrounded by poverty and orphaned at the age of 12, he started running to channel his energy into something positive. At the 1964 Olympics, he shocked the world coming from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters race. At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10K event. His win was an upset that has been called the second greatest moment in Olympic history. See his winning race (video in new tab )!
Deb Haaland appointed by President Biden to serve as United States Secretary of the Interior is the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican. More information on Native American Heritage Month can be found on the Native American Heritage Month (external site ) website.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
Filipino American History Month (also known as FAHM) is celebrated in the United States during the month of October. October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587.
Filipino Americans are the second‐largest Asian American group in the nation and the third‐largest ethnic group in California, after Latinx and African Americans.
In California, Filipino American History Month was first recognized statewide in 2006, when the California Department of Education placed it on its celebrations calendar. On September 9, 2009, the California State Assembly voted to “designate the month of October 2009, and every October thereafter, as Filipino American History Month.”
Rear Admiral Connie Mariano is a Filipino‐American who served as President Clinton's physician. Chef Cristeta Comerford is also a Filipino‐American who has been the White House Executive Chef since President George W. Bush. Thelma Buchholdt of Alaska was the first Filipino‐American state legislator and Benjamin Cayetano of Hawaii was the first Filipino‐American governor. Rapper Apl.de.ap (Allan Pineda Lindo) of the Black Eyed Peas and singer Bruno Mars are Filipino Americans. The Los Angeles Rams' MVP and Pro Bowl quarterback, Roman Gabriel, and NBA coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat are both Filipino‐Americans.
To learn more about the celebration of the Filipino American Community:
See the Natural History Museum (external site ) website.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place September 15 to October 15 every year as a time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latinx community. Beginning in 1968, Hispanic Heritage Month was originally observed as “Hispanic Heritage Week” under President Lyndon Johnson, but it was later extended to a month during President Ronald Reagan’s term in 1988.
Since then, the month has been celebrated nationwide through festivals, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more. The month also celebrates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th. They also include holidays that recognize Hispanic contributions such as Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day that is celebrated in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information see the National Hispanic Heritage Month (external site ) website.
Friday, July 23, 2021
Do you know what this is? Did you figure out what these 17 groovy lines are about? These simple but important lines in the sidewalk are found at the sloped entry/exit to sidewalks—often you’ll see raised yellow bumps meant to accomplish the same thing: to provide notice and warning of an intersection, or perhaps slow and even prevent those with a disability before they unintentionally enter a roadway or crosswalk. They’re meant to inform, protect and provide access to those of us with disabilities. We can thank the ADA for providing these ingenious tools for ensuring all of us have the ability to move freely and safely through the community!
As such, we celebrate July 26th as National Disability Independence Day to commemorate the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The landmark bill prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and guarantees their civil right to access education, transportation, employment, and other services. Before the ADA, people with disabilities were not legally entitled to reasonable accommodations, including most public facilities.
Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12101) prohibits discrimination based on disability; that is, disability discrimination—like that toward race, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation and other characteristics—was now illegal. The ADA also requires, however, specified employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public entities. The ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and upon later amendment in 2008 it was signed by his son, President George W. Bush (effective January 1, 2009). This landmark and comprehensive legislation also recognizes civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities for purposes of employment, government access and services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. The Act protects qualified persons with disabilities, that is, those physically or mentally impaired in such a manner that their major life activities are substantially limited. “Major life activities” describes the abilities to care for oneself, perform manual tasks, and includes functions such as walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, learning and working. A qualified person is one whose disability meets the eligibility requirements for receipt of services, programs or activities. Whether a specific condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA is a case‐by‐case fact‐based inquiry. Pursuant to Title II of the ADA, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) — under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — is responsible for enforcing state and local compliance via health care and human service agencies, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs, activities, and services of public entities (i.e., state and local governments and their departments and agencies).
As you can see above, the impact of the ADA is widespread and is as simple as grooves in the road and as complex as the design structure of our buildings, or the technology we use in which to communicate. Of course, the importance of the ADA is also reflected in the image as what one might see as a curious or decorative sidewalk design is perhaps lifesaving to another!
*Photo courtesy of Mary Lafferty
The Significance of June 28th for the LGBTQ Community
Monday, June 28, 2021
On June 1, 2021, President Biden declared June 2021 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Pride Month. As the President’s proclamation declares, “[t]he uprising at the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969, sparked a liberation movement — a call to action that continues to inspire us to live up to our Nation’s promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all.”
For those unfamiliar with the Stonewall Uprising or the events that followed, below is a brief history of this movement:
In the 1950s and 1960s very few establishments welcomed gay patrons. Police raids of such locations were routine. The Stonewall Inn was a gay club located within Greenwich Village in New York City. On June 28, 1969 it was raided by police. In response, local LGBTQ residents and supporters participated in riots, followed by social activists who engaged in organized efforts to allow for the congregation of the LGBTQ community without fear of being arrested. The social unrest on June 28, 1969 and the days that followed are referred to as the Stonewall Uprising. The first gay pride parades took place on June 28, 1970, marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. While this event did not mark the start of the gay rights movement, it definitely invigorated LGBTQ political activism. As a result of this monumental occasion, June 28th is nationally known as Pride Day.
More information can be found at: https://nationaltoday.com/pride-month/ (external site ).
See the President’s Proclamation (external site ) for more details.
Friday, June 18, 2021
On June 17, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. For those who are unaware of this holiday’s significance, here is a brief summary of why this important day should be celebrated by all.
In 1863, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. However, two years would pass before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song, and dance. Juneteenth combines the words “June” and “nineteenth.”
In 1865 General Granger’s first order of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3, which began most significantly with:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
Please click the link below for more information:
Interesting Facts About Juneteenth (external site )