Special VOICES Web
Hispanic American Heritage
"We need to help students and parents cherish and preserve
the ethnic and cultural diversity that nourishes and strengthens
this community - and this nation."
"It is not enough to teach our young people to be
successful... so they can realize their ambitions, so they can
earn good livings, so they can accumulate the material things
that this society bestows. Those are worthwhile goals. But it is
not enough to progress as individuals while our friends and
neighbors are left behind."
In 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon
Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988, this
celebration was extended to a month. Because of this, many
American’s believe that the influence of Hispanic Americans is
recent. Longer than America has been a nation, however, Hispanic
settlers have greatly impacted the culture and history of the “New
The term “Hispanic” does not refer to a nationality or
country, but rather cultural or ethnic roots. More than 400 years ago,
millions of people have come to this land from Caribbean regions,
Central America, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South
America, and Spain. The cultural heritage of Hispanic bloodlines
includes Mayan, Aztec, Spanish, Mexican, and more than 20 nations.
Like most of those that risked the journey and
uncertainty of relocating to an emerging nation; freedom, peace, and
economic prosperity were the primary motivators. In a world with much
more limited technology and transportation options, no one made the
decision to uproot their lives and family lightly. The trip demanded
serious commitments, strong work ethics, dedication to family values,
and willingness to build community building. In many ways, these
attitudes and beliefs are the foundation of the American Dream.
After all, what sets America apart from the rest of the
world are the different cultural heritages of diverse people. Each group
brings unique perspectives and strengths to the fabric of this nation.
Yes, celebrating diversity does mean looking at how different groups
make us stronger. It also means recognizing the values we share. Today,
immigration issues dominate many political discussions. Today, when
politicians and pundits talk about “immigration,” they are usually
referring to Hispanics – often from Mexico.
This past spring in major cities all across America,
hundreds of thousands of Mexican Americans and recent immigrants took to
the street to show America the vibrant and dramatic impact they have in
our culture and economy. These are real people, not faceless, nameless
beings to be exploited for political purposes.
Like most people trying to find acceptance in a new
land, the family unit is important. Loyalty to the extended family is
probably the most powerful tool to survive and thrive. The family has to
come first as does the well-being of the community as a whole. American
history is full of rich stories of different ethnic groups taking their
place in our culture, but it all starts with family and community.
Each group brings its own traditions, celebrations,
cuisine, spirituality, and heritage. Clearly, most Americans enjoy
watching and participating in the assimilation of these attributes –
just look at how popular different styles of foods, fashion, and music
creates bridges between Americans.
Hispanic influence has had a profound effect on this
nation in the past two generations. Hispanic Americans represent the
fastest growing segment of our population, an increasing share of our
economy, and an important segment of the U.S. labor market. In the
process, this change in America’s structure will change American
culture, politics, economics, education systems, and government.
Let’s celebrate the diversity of each group of Americans
and work together to make sure that ALL Americans have the opportunities
and resources to raise their families in dignity. Let’s do what we can
to enable ALL Americans to make positive contributions to this nation.
Reflecting on the contributions of different groups of Americans and
celebrating that heritage unites us and makes us strong.
By Bill Breitsprecher
Breitlinks. All Rights Reserved
Hispanic American Heritage
Here are some resources
to learn more about the contributions of Hispanic Ameridcans. Conducting a search for information in an
organized manner will help us locate what we need with the
least amount of work. It also helps ensure that we start
good information. To see an easy to follow outline to
help organize a research project, check our Mr.
B's "Take Five" Research Process.
To see more about
writing, please look at Mr. B's Writing Quick Tips for
"tips & tricks" and links to other Websites that
cover virtually ALL aspects grammar and writing.
Long before the present-day United States was founded,
Hispanic people and heritage have shaped
world history. The rich contributions of those from Mexico, Puerto
Rico, Cuba and other Caribbean regions, Central America, South America,
and Spain profoundly influence America. The term "Hispanic" does
not refer to people from a single, common culture. It reflects an
appreciate of similarities and contributions of diverse groups that
share Latin-American or Spanish descent.
Library Subject Headings. Understanding the
difference between keyword
and subject heading searches is important.
Keywords represent text that appears in a document.
Subject headings are assigned by an information specialists to
help researchers identify resources that cover similar topics.
A powerful tool, subject headings create connections between
sources and allow a user to benefit from someone else's work
Computerize library catalogs, can be searched with
keywords, just like most Internet search engines.
Many useful resources, however, do not share keywords -- this
means they will not be located by keyword searches.
Subject headings, however, identify documents that contain
information about similar topics even when those documents do
not share keywords. Here is a listing of common subject
headings (Sears), typically used in public and school