Thursday, September 19, 2012 -- Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed September 15, 2013 to October 15, 2013 as the 25th annual Hispanic Heritage Month in Massachusetts. Throughout the month, Governor Patrick and leaders from the Administration will be participating in events that highlight the social and civic contributions and rich heritage of the Massachusetts Hispanic community. This year's theme, "25 Years Strong: A Celebration of Civic Engagement and Service" will recognize the impact of the Hispanic community's leadership and service to the Commonwealth.
"Our non-profit and service organizations unite our communities and often times reach a section of our population that government cannot reach alone," said Governor Patrick. "This month we celebrate our diversity by honoring the contributions Hispanic civic-based organizations make in creating a unified and more vibrant Commonwealth."
Governor Deval Patrick kicked-off Hispanic Heritage Month during a roundtable discussion with Hispanic-based service organizations and non-profits from western Massachusetts at the Fernandez Family Restaurant in Holyoke. The Fernandez family migrated from Puerto Rico to Holyoke, where they later opened their restaurant. The Fernandez family provides fundraising and partnership support to a number of schools and non-profits in the Holyoke area; and prepares and offers a traditional holiday meal to homeless members of the Holyoke community every Christmas.
Governor Patrick will present the official Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation at an event at the State House on Wednesday, October 2. The Governor will be joined by Ginetta Candelario, Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of the Program in Latin American and Latina/o Studies and a faculty affiliate of the Study of Women and Gender Program at Smith College. There will also be a cultural presentation by a local dance group, as well as a community fair exclusive to nonprofit organizations with Latino constituencies to showcase their programs and services.
"This is a particularly significant theme for Hispanic Heritage Month considering the impact of the Latino vote in both state and federal elections in 2012," said Alejandra St. Guillen, Executive Director of ¿Oiste?. "The Latino population in Massachusetts is one of the fastest growing in the state with a 48% growth between the 2000 and 2010 census. This growth in numbers, however, must also be reflected in a growth in power- civic and political power. As we celebrate 25 years of civic engagement let us set high goals for the next 25 years in civic engagement, advocacy and political power in the Latino community."
Governor Patrick's proclamation recognizes that the nations of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile, which all celebrate their independence between September 15 and September 18. According to the United States Library of Congress, National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for Americans to celebrate "the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America." First recognized as a week-long observation under President Lyndon B. Johnson, President Ronald Reagan later expanded the holiday from September 15 to October 15.