We all know the importance of Latinx Heritage Month which takes place every September to honor the contributions of the Latinx community throughout U.S. history. But there are some groups within the Latinx diaspora who deserve just as much recognition on their own. Mexican American Congress Rep. Lou Correa, who represents Orange County in Southern California, is reintroducing a resolution that would nationally establish August as Chicano-Chicana Heritage Month. By recognizing Chicanos a month before Latinx Heritage Month, the celebration would honor the crucial and often overlooked contributions of Mexican Americans, who make up 61.4 percent of the Latinx population in the U.S. In California alone, Latinxs make up 39 percent of the population. The resolution has already been co-sponsored by more than 60 lawmakers and representatives from across the country.
“We are not a monolith. America, in my opinion, is a great social experiment, something that has not been seen in this world before,” Correa told Spectrum News. “We’ve got people from all over the world coming to this country to celebrate, to make the country strong and great. And by us remembering who we are, in our heritage, it only adds to the strength of this country.”
The resolution was first brought to Correa’s attention by political leaders in Orange County including Anaheim’s Mayor Pro Tem Natalie Rubalcava, who led their City Council’s recognition of Chicano Heritage Month earlier this year. “As with so many in Anaheim, this recognition is meaningful to me as a Chicana and lifelong resident of this city,” she said in a press release. “As a fourth-generation Mexican American, I am proud to be part of a cultural legacy that has contributed so much to Anaheim. I look forward to joining with the community to uplift Mexican American voices and celebrate with purpose as we enjoy educational events across our city in August.”
Latinxs make up the majority of the population in Orange County, mostly Mexican at 49.1 percent, followed by white non-Latinx at 29.1 percent, according to the 2020 Orange County Census Atlas. In the U.S. overall, people of Mexican origin accounted for nearly 60 percent of the Latinx population as of 2021, according to the PEW Research Center.
Chicano/a Month would not only celebrate Chicano history including the Chicano movement, Vietnam War activism, and the fight for desegregation, it would also spotlight important Chicano figures like Dolores Huerta, César Chávez, and Selena. Since Correa reintroduced it in Congress, it has been supported by other Latinx legislators including Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas; Yadira Caraveo of Colorado; Andrea Salinas of Oregon; Chuy García of Illinois; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Representatives from the states of Florida, Arizona, Texas, and New York have also co-sponsored the resolution.
It’s clear that the resolution is long overdue, what with Santa Ana and Anaheim, both in California, becoming the first major U.S. cities to establish August as Chicano Heritage Month. If it passes, it would join a growing line of efforts in Congress to celebrate the Chicano community including a resolution to honor Gloria Molina, the first Latina to be elected to the California State Assembly, Los Angeles City Council, and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. It could help in the move toward the establishment of the National Museum of the American Latino in DC which continues to struggle with funding and support from Congress. And while it’s important to celebrate all Latinx history, it’s important to Correa and other activists to single out Chicanos for their unique contributions and political movements in the U.S.
“Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanics in the United States — absolutely important,” Correa said in an NBC interview. “[But] is the Cuban struggle the same as the Mexican American struggle? Probably not. We have similarities, but it’s not the same.”