Hispanic Heritage Month

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion celebrates its inaugural Keynote lecture for Hispanic Heritage Month. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson observed Hispanic Heritage Week, and in 1988 President Ronald Regan increased the observation to a 30-day period. National Hispanic Heritage Month was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. September 15 th marks the anniversary of the independence of many Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16 th, and Chile gained their independence from Spain on September 18 th.

This year, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion Pursuing Racial Justice Together series brings you a conversation with Julián Castro and Dolores Huerta, moderated by Maria Hinojosa.

Julián CastroJulián Castro

Perhaps best known for his bid as the Democratic Party’s 2020 nominee for president, Julián Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014-2017. After graduating with a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, he and his twin brother, Joaquin, worked together at a law firm before forming their own in 2005. In 2009, he became the youngest mayor in a Top-50 American city and continued to win re-election through 2014.

The issue of immigration, in particular, is close to Castro’s heart. His grandmother emigrated from Mexico at seven years old, and his mother, Rosie, became an activist, educator, single mom to Castro and his brother, and the first Chicana to run for San Antonio City Council. “In just two generations after my grandmother arrived here with nothing,” he says, “my brother became a member of Congress and I had the honor of serving in President Obama’s Cabinet.”

In 2014, Castro was announced as the nominee for U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. After being approved by the Senate, he took office on July 28, 2014. In 2016, he was considered as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton. In 2019, he announced his candidacy for U.S. president, running on a platform of universal health care, universal pre-K and comprehensive immigration reform.

In addition to authoring the book,   An Unlikely Journey: Waking up From My American Dream, Castro also won the Dean’s Distinguished Fellow and Fellow of the Davila Chair in International Trade Policy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs in 2018.

Dolores HuertaDolores Huerta

When Dolores Huerta became a teacher after college, she was brokenhearted watching her students arrive at school hungry and barefoot. She devoted herself to a lifetime of activism, working to correct economic injustice.

During her time serving in leadership of the Stockton Community Service Organization (CSO), she met like-minded colleague Cesar Chavez. When they discovered that their common vision of organizing farmworkers was not in line with the CSO’s mission, they both resigned from the CSO and launched the National Farm Workers Association.

Additionally, Huerta was instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which was the first law of its kind in the U.S. In those years, she also met Gloria Steinem and joined forces in the fight against gender discrimination.

At age 58, Huerta suffered a life-threatening assault while protesting against the policies of then-presidential candidate George Bush in San Francisco. During her lengthy recovery, she took a leave of absence from the union to focus on women’s rights.

Among her numerous awards and recognitions, she has received the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, the Ohtli Award from the Mexican government, nine honorary doctorates from universities across the country, and most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian award in the United States.

Now at 89, Huerta continues to work tirelessly developing leaders and advocating for the working poor, women and children. Currently, she serves as president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, traveling across the country engaging in campaigns and influencing legislation that supports equality and defends civil rights.

Maria HinojosaMaria Hinojosa, Guest Moderator

For 25 years, Maria Hinojosa has helped tell America’s untold stories and brought to light unsung heroes in America and abroad, In April 2010, Hinojosa launched the Futuro Media Group with the mission to produce multiplatform, community-based journalism that gives critical voice to the voiceless by harnessing the power of independent media to tell stories that are overlooked or underreported by traditional media.

As the anchor and executive producer of the weekly NPR show Latino USA, and as anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One from WGBH/La Plaza, Hinojosa has informed millions of Americans about the fastest-growing group in our country. Currently, as a rotating anchor for the show Need to Know, Hinojosa has reported hundreds of important stories – from the immigrant work camps in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to teen victims of workplace harassment and more.

Her awards include four Emmys, the 2012 John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Reporting on the Disadvantaged, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club for best documentary for “Child Brides: Stolen Lives.”

Throughout her career, Hinojosa has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast. Hinojosa in the author of two books, including a motherhood memoir,   Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son.

For more information on other Hispanic Heritage Month events,  please click here.

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