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Chicano Heritage Month

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Coachella, CA: 1969. United Farm Workers Coachella March, Spring 1969. UFW leader, Dolores Huerta, organizing marchers on 2nd day of March Coachella. © 1976 George Ballis/Take Stock / The Image Works NOTE: The copyright notice must include “The Image Works” DO NOT SHORTEN THE NAME OF THE COMPANY

A good idea, absolutely.

As a child growing up in California, Rep. Lou Correa watched as his Mexican American neighbors returned from having served in the Vietnam War and still had to fight against discrimination, poverty and segregation.

That period crystallized his identity as a Chicano, a term for Mexican Americans that was once considered derogatory but then became synonymous with ethnic pride during the Civil Rights Movement.

Correa, a Democrat, sees nothing wrong with celebrating all the different Latino heritages in the United States but says there is a need to spotlight the historical and cultural significance of Mexican Americans, who account for 61% of U.S. Latinos.

Correa, who represents a Southern California district that includes cities such as Santa Ana, Anaheim, Orange, Stanton and Fullerton, has reintroduced a proposed resolution recognizing August as Chicano/Chicana Heritage Month. More than 60 members of Congress have sponsored the resolution.

Although Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually in September, the proposed resolution seeks to place Mexican Americans at the forefront — recognizing them a month before.

“Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanics in the United States — absolutely important,” Correa said in an interview, but added, “Is the Cuban struggle the same as the Mexican American struggle? Probably not. We have similarities, but it’s not the same.”

Mexican American history, as Correa noted, is tied to the history of the Southwest, the farmworker movement, legal rulings such as the fight for desegregation, and activism such as against the Vietnam War and for civil rights.

“Even a lot of us don’t remember,” Correa said. “This stuff is kind of in the rearview mirror and we want to make sure it’s in the front mirror, so to speak, so people can see it and say, ‘This is who I am’ — and remember why things are the way they are. It’s because of the history, and they can be proud.”

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