The Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Center for Student Life makes every effort to promote appreciation and common respect for ethnic and cultural diversity. Below are brief descriptions of cultural heritage months in which the Office actively engages in, designing activities and programs to improve cultural awareness and diversity.
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.
Latin Fest is a campus wide event that started in 1996 as a celebration of Latin American cultures. The event is held in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. During this time, Clemson celebrates the culture and heritage of students, faculty and staff descending from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The event includes traditional Latin foods, music, dance instruction and more.
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 was declared the first "American Indian Day. On August 3, 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the first National American Indian Heritage Month.
Although the first "American Indian Day" was declared by the State of New York in 1916, a month long recognition of Native Americans was not achieved until 1990. This month is dedicated to recognizing the intertribal cultures, the events and lifeways, the designs and achievements of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
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 noticed 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.
May is National Asian Pacific American 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.