Federal Heritage Month Celebrations

February Black History Month
Black History Month owes its beginning to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a black American man born to slave parents, who later went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Throughout his studies, the scholar was perturbed by the absence of black Americans in historical texts, despite their presence in the New World since the colonial period. In 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and, one year later, the Journal of Negro Life. In 1926, it was he that began Negro History Week, aiming to bring the nation’s attention to the struggles and contributions of black Americans. As part of the Nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded to a full month in 1976. Woodson originally chose the second week of February as Negro History Week because it held the birthdays of two important figures in black history – Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

March Women’s History Month
The celebration of women’s history has its origins in the International Women's Day, first celebrated in Europe on March 8, 1911. In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County, California, Commission on the Status of Women began a "Women's History Week" celebration that coincided with International Women's Day. In 1980, President Carter issued a Presidential Message supporting this celebration of the accomplishments of women. In 1981, the United States Congress, with bi-partisan support, passed a resolution declaring a National Women’s History Week. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to expand the celebration to the entire month of March. Congress has issued a resolution for celebration of Women’s History Month every year since then. The President has also issued an annual proclamation for Women’s History month.

March Irish American Heritage Month
The United States Congress has designated each March as Irish American Heritage Month in 1995. Prior to the congressional law, since 1991, Presidents have proclaimed March to be Irish American Heritage Month in recognition of the 44 million Americans of Irish decent.

March was chosen because so many Americans celebrate their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day.

From President Bush’s 2003 Declaration:
“Throughout our history, America has welcomed millions of Irish immigrants to its shores. These proud people arrived seeking a better life for themselves, their families, and future generations. Many courageous individuals came during the terrible years of Ireland's Great Famine in the middle of the 19th century, and their road to prosperity was not easy. Many faced significant obstacles, including discrimination and poverty. Despite these challenges, Irish Americans have risen to success in every sector of our society.”

Sources: Maryland Irish Education Committee; University of Maryland University College Heritage Month Series; The White House

May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May is National Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage month, a time to celebrate the Asian and Pacific Islander history and culture in the United States. The celebration originally began in 1978 when a Joint Resolution signed by President Jimmy Carter designated the first 10 days of May to Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. In 1990 President George H. W. Bush expanded the celebration to the entire month.

June Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
On June 2, 2000, former President William J. Clinton designated the month of June as Gay and Lesbian Pride month, encouraging Americans to recognize "the joys and sorrows that the gay and lesbian movement has witnessed and the work that remains to be done. Clinton proclaimed that observing Gay and Lesbian Pride Month is one way to "celebrate the progress we have made in creating a society more inclusive and accepting of gays and lesbians." Gay and Lesbian issues are important to everyone, for in the words of former President Clinton, they are "our colleagues and neighbors, daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, friends and partners." Observing Gay and Lesbian Pride Month is one step to understanding our differences and creating a truly inclusive society where gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and all Americans, are afforded equal rights.

Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Release, June 2, 2002

September 15th – October 15th Hispanic Heritage Month
On September 17, 1968, the U.S. Congress established the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The agreement authorized the President to issue an annual proclamation encouraging people of the United States, “especially the educational community,” to observe the Heritage Week. In 1988, the 100th Congress expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to a full month, beginning September 15 and ending October 15. These dates correspond to the independence days of several Latin American countries. September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s independence is September 16, Chile’s is September 18, and October 12 is celebrated as Dia de la Raza.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated with ceremonies and activities in corporations, government agencies, community organizations, schools, and churches. It is a time to honor the rich diversity of the Hispanic American community and educate oneself about the history, culture, and traditions of people who have made, and continue to make, remarkable contributions to society.

October National Disability Employment Awareness Month

November American Indian Heritage Month
November is American Indian Heritage Month and Alaska Native Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the Native American history and culture in the United States. The celebration originally began in New York State in 1916 it declared the first “American Indian Day. On August 3, 1990 President George Bush declared the first National American Indian Heritage Month.

There are many things that we can do to celebrate American Indian Heritage month at Sodexo. Find out more about it and how to celebrate it with your employees and clients.

December Universal Human Rights Month
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 without a dissenting vote. It is the first multinational declaration mentioning human rights by name, and the human rights movement has largely adopted it as a charter.