Hispanic Heritage Month
began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week
. We never learned about it in my schools, which prided themselves on being among the most progressive in the country. Every year we celebrated Black History Month
, which began, amazingly, in 1926 as Negro History Week
back when the Ku Klux Klan
enjoyed its peak membership of 4 to 5 million people (or a whopping 15% of the nation's eligible men). Anyway, we students always raised the same questions: Is it in February because it's the shortest month? Where's Asian or Latino History Month? Where's White History Month? I don't recall my teachers having the answers except that we learned plenty of white history year-round and Black History Month was a time to recognize the contributions of a people to American culture who'd been systematically ignored.
So, this year I found out about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
, which began in 1978 and which I had NEVER heard mentioned. Some Asians I knew had, including, of course, noted justice-minded free-thinker Ngoc-Thu Thi Nguyen
. She said it was marked by more documentaries about Japanese Internment Camps being shown on PBS. At the same time, I found out about Hispanic Heritage Month, which I mentioned started in 1968, and which I'd also never heard about.