ARCHIVE: Hispanic Heritage Month — Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power and Progress in America
By Thaniya Shankar, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Intern, Civil Rights Staff
Hispanic heritage is vibrant and culturally diverse, with an indomitable spirit. Each year, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, we celebrate this culture, community and its individuals during Hispanic Heritage Month. The 2023 theme is “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power and Progress in America,” shining a spotlight on the remarkable strides made by the Hispanic community in economics, politics and societal advancement.
Diverse in origins, languages and traditions, the Latino community is a tapestry woven from the threads of resilience, creativity and a relentless pursuit of the American dream. Their contributions have left an indelible mark on every facet of American life, from art and music to business and politics.
One towering figure who exemplifies the theme of prosperity and progress is chef and restaurateur José Andrés. Born in Spain and later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Andrés is a culinary innovator and humanitarian whose impact extends far beyond the kitchen.
From his early days as a chef, Andrés was known for his innovative approach to cuisine, blending traditional Spanish flavors with modern techniques. He rose to prominence with his successful restaurants, which brought to Americans to the vibrant and diverse flavors of Spain.
However, it’s not just his culinary achievements that make Andrés a symbol of prosperity and progress for Latinos in America. One of his most remarkable feats came in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. While the government response struggled to meet the needs of the people, Andrés and his team arrived on the island and established kitchens that served over 3 million meals to hurricane survivors. His organization’s swift and effective response showcased the power of community-driven initiatives.
Andrés embodies the spirit of prosperity, power and progress that the Latino community brings to America. Through his culinary innovation, humanitarian efforts and advocacy, he has demonstrated how Latinos can drive positive change in economics, politics and social welfare. As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, it is individuals like Andrés who remind us of the remarkable contributions of Latinos to the prosperity and progress of this nation.
Another notable and influential individual is Dolores Huerta, renowned for her leadership in labor activism, civil rights advocacy and her tireless championing of the rights of farmworkers. Together with Cesar Chavez, she was a co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW), and her unwavering commitment to social justice has left a deep imprint on not only the Latino community but also the broader fabric of American society.
Huerta’s tireless efforts in organizing and advocating for the rights of farmworkers played a pivotal role in improving working conditions, wages and labor rights for agricultural laborers, who were often marginalized and exploited. Her leadership and commitment to justice contributed to significant policy changes and protections for these workers.
Beyond her labor activism, Dolores Huerta has been a powerful advocate for Latino political representation and civil rights. She has been instrumental in mobilizing communities to participate in the democratic process, encouraging voter registration and engagement among Latinos.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportune time to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of Latinos in America and recognize the substantial role that they have played in shaping the nation’s economic, political and social landscape. Their remarkable journey is a testament to the power of determination, innovation and unity. As the nation reflects on Hispanic heritage, let us honor the achievements of the past and embrace the promise of a brighter future, one where Latinos continue to drive prosperity, power and progress in the United States.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) advocates for the success of the Hispanic population in higher education. USDA partners with HACU for an internship program to enhance diversity and inclusion within its workforce by providing opportunities for students from Hispanic-serving institutions who can gain valuable experience and contribute their perspectives to the organization’s mission.
Photo by US Department of State.
Photo by Jay Godwin.