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Heritage Months/Events

La Roche University celebrates diversity throughout the year!

  • September: National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month

    National Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month honors the culture, heritage and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans each year. The event began in 1968 when Congress deemed the week including Sept. 15 and 16 National Hispanic Heritage Week to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. 

    The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historic events: Independence Day, honoring the formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (Sept. 15, 1821), and Mexico’s Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control (Sept. 16, 1810). 

    It was not until 1988 that the event was expanded to month-long period, which includes El Dia de la Raza on Oct. 12, which celebrates the influences of the people who came after Christopher Columbus and the multicultural, multiethnic society that evolved as a result; Chile’s Independence Day on Sept. 18 (El Dieciocho); and Belize’s Independence Day on Sept. 21. 

    Each year a different theme for the month is selected, and a poster is created to reflect that theme.

  • October: National Disability Employment Awareness Month
    In October Americans observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month by paying tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation’s economy strong and by reaffirming their commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens.

    This effort to educate the public about the issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted Public Law 176, declaring the first week of October each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962 the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Some 25 years later, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
  • February: Black History Month

    In 1926 Dr. Carter G. Woodson instituted the first week-long celebration to raise awareness of African Americans’ contributions to history. Important achievements were left out of history books, and there was a general misconception that African Americans had made little contribution to U.S. society or history. Fifty years later the week became a month, and today February is celebrated as African American History Month. 

    The month of February was chosen because it celebrates the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom dramatically affected the lives of African Americans. Each year the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, founded by Dr. Woodson, sets the theme for the month.

  • March: Women’s History Month
    Women's History Month is a time to celebrate the resilience, leadership and diversity of women worldwide. Through events, discussions and reflections, we aim to highlight the significant roles women have played and continue to play in shaping our society, inspiring future generations and advancing gender equality.

    Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a Women’s History Week celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

    In 1980 a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women's History Alliance) successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980 President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week.

    Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month. Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995 each president has issued an annual proclamation designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes a yearly theme.
  • May: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

    The roots of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month can be traced back to 1976, when Jeanie Jew, president of the Organization of Chinese American Women, contacted government officials in response to the lack of Asian Pacific representation in the U.S. bicentennial celebrations that same year. 

    The observance began in 1979 as Asian Heritage Week, established by congressional proclamation. In May 1990 the holiday was expanded further when President George Bush signed a proclamation making it month-long for that year. 

    On October 23, 1992, President Bush signed legislation designating May of every year Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). 

    The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities.

  • Juneteenth 2024 


    • Film for Thought: Juneteenth | Faith & Freedom
      Ryan Room
      Tuesday, June 18, 2024
      12:00 PM – 1:15 PM

      Juneteenth | Faith & Freedom is a brief documentary film exploring the history of Juneteenth, faith, freedom and the descendants of those emancipated in 1865 Texas.

      Bring your lunch and join us for the film and brief discussion! Faculty, staff, students and CLL members are all welcome to attend.

    What is Juneteenth?

    Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on June 19 in the United States. It commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in Texas and signifies the end of slavery in the United States.

    Congress passed The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act in June 2021, a day after the Senate passed the bill with unanimous consent. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on June 17, 2021, two days before Juneteenth.

    Historical Background

    The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863. However, news of the proclamation and the end of slavery did not reach the enslaved African Americans there immediately.

    On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery in accordance with the proclamation. This event is known as Juneteenth and has since become a significant date in African American history.

    Later attempts to explain this two-and-a-half-year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another is that federal troops waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions, could be true. Whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory. (

    While Texas was the last Confederate state where the proclamation was announced, it was the first to recognize the date of June 19 – Juneteenth – statewide. The inaugural Juneteenth to commemorate the official day enslaved people in Galveston were freed began in 1866. The holiday spread across the country as African Americans migrated away from the South.

    Significance and Celebration

    Juneteenth is a day of celebration and remembrance. It is an opportunity to honor the resilience, strength and contributions of African Americans throughout history. It serves as a reminder of the struggles endured by enslaved people and their journey toward freedom.

    Various activities and events are held on Juneteenth to commemorate the occasion. These may include parades, concerts, picnics, art exhibits, historical reenactments and educational programs. It is a time for communities to come together, reflect on the past, and embrace the progress made in the fight for equality and justice.

    Symbolism and Traditions

    Juneteenth is associated with several symbols and traditions:

    • Juneteenth Flag: The Juneteenth flag was created by Ben Haith in 1997. It features a horizontal tricolor design with red, white and blue. The color red represents resilience, the color white symbolizes purity and the color blue represents perseverance.
    • Traditional Food: Food plays a vital role in Juneteenth celebrations. Traditional dishes may include barbecue, fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, sweet potato pie and red drinks like hibiscus tea or red soda, symbolizing resilience and ingenuity.
    • Educational Programs: Many communities organize educational programs and discussions about African American history, the legacy of slavery and the ongoing fight for equality. These programs aim to promote awareness and understanding among all individuals.

    Importance of Juneteenth

    Juneteenth holds immense historical and cultural significance. It marks a pivotal moment in American history, emphasizing the ongoing struggle for freedom and equality. By learning about Juneteenth, we can foster empathy, acknowledge the injustices of the past, and work together to create a more inclusive and equitable future.


    Juneteenth is a significant holiday that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. It serves as a reminder of the resilience, strength and contributions of African Americans throughout history. By celebrating Juneteenth and promoting awareness, we can honor the struggle for freedom and equality while striving for a more just society.

    Juneteenth is not just a holiday for African Americans, but for everyone to recognize and appreciate the rich cultural heritage and ongoing struggle for equality