By T. L. Hupfer
President Lyndon B. Johnson kicked off a celebration of Hispanic heritage in 1968.
At the time, it only spanned a week.
It was a natural initiative for a one-time teacher in Cotulla — deep in South Texas — at a school for the children of Mexican-American residents.
During the media-dubbed “Decade of the Hispanic,” in 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded the observation to a month.
Ironically, the term Hispanic came into use in the 1980 U.S. Census to label all ethnic groups with an origin on the Iberian Peninsula.
As Mexico celebrates its independence Sept. 16, that date was an appropriate beginning of a monthlong observation.
It was also in keeping with observances throughout Latin America. Sept. 15 is independence day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Chile celebrates Sept. 18.
The end of the month almost coincides with the Oct. 12 observation of Columbus Day, commemorating the “discovery” of the New World.
Descendants of the New World residents of the time can be forgiven for seeing things a little differently. Throughout Latin America the day is also observed as la Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race.
Here on campus, the planning committee for Hispanic Heritage Month has compiled a list of events to please everyone.
At 9:25 a.m. Tuesday in Room 218 of the nursing and allied health complex, Mara Posada will be talking about Planned Parenthood and its struggle to continue offering services in Texas.
From 9 a.m.-2 p.m Wednesday, low riders take over the mall for the Antojitos Festival. Car owners will be on hand to answer questions during the showcase.
From 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., participation in an interactive area leads to posing for free, fun photos.
Visual artist Luis Lopez will be on campus at 9:25 a.m Thursday in Room 218 of the nursing and allied health complex. He will be displaying his art pieces and answering questions.
From 2 p.m-4 p.m Saturday, the Coahuiltecan Creation Panel will speak in Room 120 of the visual arts center to tell the story of a rock painting found in Comstock.
The White Shaman Panel tells the story of distant relatives of Mexican-Americans and what was found in the 4,000-year-old-rock panel.
All events are free and the observation continues through Oct. 16. For more information, call 210-486-0880.