The GCWJ Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
By Emily Miller, Writing intern
September 15th heralds the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Before we celebrate this month, we must know why we celebrate it. Hispanic heritage is rich with culture and history and, in the fight for racial equality, it is essential that we recognize its beauty.
Vanguard’s El Puente club president Monserrath Salazar said, “It’s important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because we celebrate our heritage along with the sacrifices and accomplishments paved by our ancestors. We are celebrating our generational determination, perseverance, love, and bravery.” The GCWJ celebrates all the Hispanic women who have, as El Puente President Monse stated so well, made sacrifices and accomplishments for the future Hispanic generations with determination, perseverance, love, and bravery.
Dr. Norlan Hernández, director of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, said, “There is great value in taking the time to honor a culture from which many prominent voices have emerged.” One of these prominent voices is Rigoberta Menchú, an advocate for indigenous workers’ rights in Guatemala. In 1959, Menchú was born to a poor peasant family in the Quiche branch of Mayan culture and worked on a coffee plantation with her family as a child. Menchú joined the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) to strike for better labor conditions for her people; after her family was tortured and killed for their involvement in the CUC, Menchú continued as an advocate and resistance fighter for Indigenous workers’ rights. Later in life, Menchú won a Nobel Prize for her work. Once, she said “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, and democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.” It is for this reason – the prosperity of peace and justice – that the GCWJ celebrates and respects Hispanic cultures and peoples.
There is still much to be done regarding the fight for Hispanic racial equality. In recent years, the rates of labor trafficking in America among Hispanic immigrants have been increasing. According to one study done by the Polaris Project, there was a 70% increase in labor trafficking victims among those holding an H-2A visa from April 2020 through September 2020, and 99% of these labor trafficking victims were Hispanic. Another recent study done by Polaris found that in the three year span between 2018 and 2020, 15,886 labor trafficking survivors called the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Out of all 15,886 survivors, 92% were foreign nationals, 60% shared their visa status, and 59% had experienced threats regarding their visa and immigration status to keep them working. Some ways to take action are to donate or volunteer with organizations that assist Hispanic immigrants and protect their rights, such as Unidos US, Matthew 25 Ministries, and more. If you meet a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The Lord calls us to “learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). To defend the rights of Hispanic immigrants and celebrate Hispanic heritage is to obey God’s command and worship His character. Dr. Hernández said, “I believe that honoring Hispanic Heritage is an act of worship that acknowledges God’s sovereign and creative nature. The diversity represented in the Hispanic community—and the world at large—was an intentional decision and is representative of God’s character.”
“Labor Exploitation and Trafficking of Agricultural Workers During the Pandemic.” Polaris Project, January 23, 2021. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Polaris_Labor_Exploitation_and_Trafficking_of_Agricultural_Workers_During_the_Pandemic.pdf.
“Labor Trafficking on Specific Temporary Work Visas: A Data Analysis 2018-2020.” Polaris Project, 2021. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Labor-Trafficking-on-Specific-Temporary-Work-Visas-by-Polaris.pdf
“The Nobel Prize 1992: Rigoberta Menchú Tum Biographical.” NobelPrize.org. Accessed September 12, 2022. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1992/tum/biographical/.
 “The Nobel Prize 1992: Rigoberta Menchú Tum Biographical.” NobelPrize.org. Accessed September 12, 2022. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1992/tum/biographical/.
 “Labor Exploitation and Trafficking of Agricultural Workers During the Pandemic.” Polaris Project, January 23, 2021. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Polaris_Labor_Exploitation_and_Trafficking_of_Agricultural_Workers_During_the_Pandemic.pdf.
 “Labor Trafficking on Specific Temporary Work Visas: A Data Analysis 2018-2020.” Polaris Project, 2021. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Labor-Trafficking-on-Specific-Temporary-Work-Visas-by-Polaris.pdf