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September 15 through October 15 marks Latinx Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions to American society of those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson initiated the national observance of Hispanic Heritage week and it was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1988. September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and 18, respectively.
Over the course of Latinx Heritage Month the California Civil Rights Law Group will pay tribute by spotlighting the contributions of members of the Latinx communities who have left an indelible mark on our country. We begin the month with a brief look at a civil rights activist, a poet, and a Supreme Court Justice:
Cesar Chavez Labor Leader, civil rights activist. Co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, Chavez used nonviolent tactics including protest marches, hunger strikes and boycotts to secure union rights for migrant farm workers in the 1960s. It is estimated that more than 17 million Americans participated in the Chavez-led Delano grape strike, the most successful boycott in US history, leading to the creation of the United Farm Workers union. Chavez also brought national attention to the dangers of pesticides to farm workers and was an early supporter of gay rights and a vocal opponent to the Vietnam War.
Gloria Anzaldúa Feminist theorist, author, poet and activist. A Mexican-American native of Texas, Anzaldúa fought segregation throughout her own education and early career as a teacher, then went on to document the Chicana struggle and resilience. Her poems and essays explore the anger and isolation of occupying the margins of culture and collective identity. Her essays are groundbreaking works in cultural, feminist, and queer theories.
Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court Justice. Born in New York to Puerto Rican-born parents, Sotomayor is the first Latina to sit as a Justice on the Supreme Court. Sotomayor was part of the majority in two landmark Supreme Court Rulings: in King v. Burwell the Court upheld a critical component of the Affordable Care Act; Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same sex marriage in all fifty states. She is a role model for all civil rights practitioners including the attorneys and staff at CCRLG.
The California Civil Rights Law Group recognizes the rich and lasting contributions of Latinx leaders.