U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS CELEBRATES HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is pleased to join the nation in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, 2002. This year's theme is "Hispanic Americans: Strength in Unity, Faith, and Diversity."
Although the Hispanic presence in parts of the United States predates the arrival of English settlers, our nation is only beginning to recognize the depth and extent of the Latino contribution to our society. From famed writer Isabel Allende to home run artist Sammy Sosa, Jr., the nation has benefited by the talents and energies of Hispanics in every endeavor and discipline.
But there are some troubling signs on the horizon, on which the nation must remain focused as it takes this moment to appreciate the vast legacy of Hispanic achievement. The nation's Hispanic population is the largest, youngest, and fastest growing among the country's major racial/ethnic groups. Yet overall educational attainment remains low, and incarceration rates for Hispanic males are disproportionately high. In addition, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States put increasing pressure on border and immigration issues, intensifying fears of a generalized "immigration backlash."
The Commission has long been concerned with the status of and opportunities available to Hispanic Americans. In 2000, it published Equal Educational Opportunities for Hispanic Students in Oklahoma Schools, and in 1997, it examined an issue of particular concern to many Hispanics in its Equal Educational Opportunity and Nondiscrimination for Students with Limited English Proficiency. Welfare and education initiatives remain high concerns to the Commission as they are to many in the Hispanic community.
"The Commission is dedicated to furthering the vision of an America free
from racial and ethnic discrimination," said Commission Chairperson Mary
Frances Berry. "As we celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month, we must not
lose sight of the challenges that still face Latinos-for they are challenges
that face us all."