TRENTON — Honoring Hispanic leaders and Hispanic Heritage Month, today Senate President Steve Sweeney along with Senators M. Teresa Ruiz, Nellie Pou and Nilsa Cruz-Perez presented a joint resolution to Latino leaders recognizing their work and contribution throughout the state. The Hispanic Heritage Month celebration runs from September 15 through October 15 each year.
“Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes the countless contributions of Hispanics who help make our country prosperous,” said Senator Sweeney. “The Hispanic population is the largest minority in the United States and plays a key role in our country’s socio-economic, political and cultural development and it is important to recognize their achievements and valuable contributions.”
“The Latino community is a vital part of our state andits contributions not only make New Jersey great, but also ensure that we continue to grow stronger,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Today, the Senate honored leaders that are making a difference every day within our communities, including those who are organizing recovery and relief efforts for Puerto Rico. To all of them, we say thank for your tireless efforts.”
“Hispanic Heritage Month comes at a time when so many of our Latino brothers and sisters are struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The way our communities are coming together is a tribute to our resiliency, but we must continue to do more and not to forget in the upcoming weeks and months about our people in Puerto Rico.”
“As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to recognize Latinos who live in every community in New Jersey for their valuable contribution to our state,” said Senator Cruz-Perez. “Now is a time of great uncertainty for many Latinos. Many of us have been attacked and impugned, and our families are being threatened with being torn apart. The Latino community is an essential part of our communities and our country. They are vital to our history, as well as our future.”
The senators presented the ceremonial resolution for the Hispanic Heritage Month, to Ivonne Diaz-Claisse from HISPA; Alejandro Roman, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, New Jersey Chapter; Lydia Valencia, CEO of Puerto Rican Congress of NJ, Inc.; Ralph Padilla, executive director of Puerto Rican Action Committee of Southern New Jersey; and Johnny Torres from Save Latin America honoring their work, and that of Latinos throughout the state.
According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanics represent 19 percent of the state population which ranks 9th in the country.
In September 1968, the United States Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week. This celebration was extended by the Congress in 1989 to last a whole month (from September 15 to October 15).
The United States celebrates the culture and traditions of its residents with roots in Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
September 15 was chosen as the beginning of the celebration as the anniversary of the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence Day on September 16 and 18, respectively.