Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 14, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Hispanic Heritage Month

Every year, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in the United States from September 15 to October 15. This provides an opportunity for Americans to celebrate and recognize the contributions, cultures, and traditions of Hispanic Americans .

When was the first Hispanic Heritage Month? President Lyndon Johnson’s administration began observing Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a full month, as it is still observed today.

Why does it begin on September 15? September 15 is a very significant day, because it is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. September 16 is Mexican Independence Day, and Chile celebrates its independence on September 18.

What are some of the major contributions of Hispanic Americans? An estimated 41 million U.S. households currently speak Spanish. Hispanic Americans contribute about $215 billion in taxes to the U.S. economy every year. Culturally, they have had a significant influence on American food, music, sports, politics, and more.

Dig Deeper Research any Hispanic Heritage Month events in your state or local community. Share what you learned.

Afghan Women Protest All-Male Taliban Government

An all-male interim Taliban government has been installed since the elected government of Afghanistan lost control in August 2021. On September 9, 2021, dozens of Afghan women gathered in Kabul, the nation’s capital city, to protest. Their position is that they will not accept any government that does not include female representation. The interim government will be led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund. He served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister when the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan, which was from 1996 to 2001.

The new ministers, who are all male, have been told to govern according to the Taliban version of Islamic, or Sharia, Law. The Taliban has said that women will have rights according to Sharia Law but haven’t been specific about what that might look like in practice. The ministry of women’s affairs has already been eliminated. When the Taliban previously led Afghanistan, women were not permitted to have jobs or attend school. Women were not allowed to leave their homes except with a male escort. Then they were forced to completely cover themselves from head to toe.

Some of the women were beaten during the protest, as were some of the journalists who covered the event. The Taliban claimed that the protest was illegal because the women didn’t have permission to do it, and because they used language that the Taliban found to be offensive.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Taliban National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) is calling the new government illegal. The NRF asks other nations not to recognize the new Afghan government. The NRF is also continuing to fight against Taliban forces in more remote parts of the country.

Dig Deeper Conduct some research to learn more about Taliban rule in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. Write a three-paragraph essay about what you learned.

Meet the Harlem Hellfighters

The Harlem Hellfighters was the segregated African American 369th Infantry Regiment that fought in World War I. And now, a century later, they will be receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.

African Americans, members of 369th Colored Infantry, wave from a troop ship as they arrive back in New York City.
The 369th Colored Infantry was nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters.

The Harlem Hellfighters were a segregated New York National Guard unit, headquartered in the Harlem borough of New York City. In Europe, they unloaded supply ships until March 1918, when they were renamed the 369th Infantry. The soldiers were ordered to join the French Army, where they could fight alongside white soldiers. This was not allowed in American military units at this time. The members of the 369th served 191 days in combat–the most of any U.S. military unit of their size. Over time, 1500 soldiers of the unit were killed or wounded. They didn’t receive adequate replacements, and yet still fought bravely. The 369th regiment was awarded eleven French citations and a unit Croix de Guerre. More than 170 members of the unit also received individual medals.

The nickname “Hellfighters”  was given to the members of the 369th regiment by the Germans, who called them “Hollenkampfer.” The unit actually referred to themselves as the “Black Rattlers.” The French called them “Hommes de Bronze,” or “Men of Bronze. The nickname wasn’t officially recognized by the U.S. military until 2020, when it joined 717 other military units with special designations.

This decision to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the unit is a bipartisan effort, spearheaded by Rep. Joyce Beatty (Democrat – Ohio) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Democrat – New York). Beatty is also the head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to find out how the Harlem Hellfighters were received when they returned home after World War I. Write a paragraph describing what you learn.

Confederate Statue Removed from Virginia Capital

On September 8, 2021, a 61-foot-tall statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was removed in Virginia’s capital city of Richmond. That statue was the largest Confederate monument in Richmond, and one of the largest in the country, The statue will be placed in storage.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had called for the statue’s removal in June 2020, shortly after killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, but legal battles delayed the process. The Virginia Supreme Court voted on September 2, 2021, to remove the statue.

Richmond, Virginia, was the capital city of the Confederate States of America during the nation’s Civil War. Monument Avenue, where the Lee statue stood was also the site of a series of other statues honoring Confederates J.E.B. Stuart, “Stonewall” Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Matthew Maury. Those other statues had already been removed by the city of Richmond.

Dig Deeper Use the Internet or your library’s resources to research other locations in the United States where Confederate memorials have been removed from public view. You may also search for schools, streets, or other places named to honor former Confederates. Choose three examples and write a summary of where the removal or renaming took place and what was done with the statue or memorial.