In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.
In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.
MCC’s Diversity Matters Book Series began in 2008. It consists of 4-5 books featured for discussion from September to June each year. Audience members are encouraged to read the book and join to share in a discussion with an appointed leader. It is not required to read the book to attend the discussion. Limited copies of the books are available in the MCC library.
An annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.
At MCC, this activity involves a meal created and served to the audience by a Mexican restaurant or caterer at the South Omaha ITC Conference Center. Traditional Mexican entertainment, a renowned keynote speaker and recognition of 2-3 awardees who positively impact the Hispanic/Latino community are part of the celebration.
The Diversity Matters Film & Lecture Series began in 2006. Approximately nine presentations annually are offered across MCC campuses and centers. Discussion leaders are identified for the films.
History: Begun 1986, the year the federal Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday was established, Dr. Barbara J Coffey, Director of Marketing & Public Relations, initiated the event. Initially held in Bldg. 7 at the Fort Omaha Campus, the luncheon first moved to the ITC Conference Center at South Omaha Campus to accommodate a larger audience and eventually reestablished its home at the Fort Omaha Campus in January 2011 after completion of Bldg. 22 Swanson Conference Center.
Similar to the holiday, the event celebrates the life and achievements of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.
This is a major campus activity involving a renowned keynote speaker, 2-3 awards to campus/community individuals or groups, cultural stage entertainment and sit-down meal served to audience members at linen-covered tables. Typical time frame is 1.5 hours, 12 noon -1:30 p.m. to accommodate attendance by 12 noon – 1:50 p.m. classes.
The Fort Omaha Intertribal Powwow highlights Native American dance, music, regalia, oral history and arts. With its rich ties to Native American history, where Ponca Chief Standing Bear and his people were detained pending the 1879 landmark civil rights case granting Native Americans the right of Habeas corpus, the Fort Omaha Campus continues to offer an ideal location for this outdoor community event uniting people of diverse cultures, races, socioeconomic backgrounds and ages. This event is family-friendly and free and open to the public.
International Education Week (IEW), typically held the 3rd week of November, is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. Individuals and institutions interested in international education and exchange activities are encouraged to participate in International Education Week by holding related events in their local communities.
Begun in 2014, Metropolitan Community College has commemorated International Education Week with an evening event, free and open to the public, called Global Voices & Perspectives featuring a keynote message, cultural entertainment, an international photo contest and an hors d'oeuvres buffet. Due to the end of Fall Quarter falling in November, this event is held in October in anticipation of International Education Week.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multicultural customs of their community.
Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.
The term Hispanic or Latino, refers to Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.
Metropolitan Community College’s annual International Fair features diverse stage entertainment, cultural displays and opportunities to learn from distinguished artists. The spacious sunlit South Omaha Campus Connector Commons is an ideal location to highlight the cultural and artistic diversity that continues to weave the fabric of South Omaha. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony welcomes new U.S. citizens at the beginning of the International Fair annually. This event is family friendly and free and open to the public.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.
As recently as the 1970s, women’s history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978.
The week of March 8th, International Women’s Day, was chosen as the focal point of the observance.
Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women.
Due to the beginning of the Spring Quarter term and efforts to draw audiences from MCC faculty and students, MCC generally implements Women’s History Month programming during the last two weeks of March.
The Vietnamese New Year, known around the world as Tet Nguyen Dan (Tet), is probably the only festival that best concludes Vietnam’s rich, colorful culture and long history. It marks the beginning of Spring as well as of a New Year in the Lunar Calendar. To the Vietnamese, it is the biggest and most sacred festival. Begin the grandest and most significant holiday in the country, it would equal the most important celebrations of other parts of the globe like the Fourth of July, New Year, Ester and Thanksgiving all combined.
Tet is a three-day celebration, but the festivities could stretch up to over a week. Drinking, splurging on traditional Vietnamese food, travelling and relaxing commonly takes place. Spending time with family and friends, gift giving and paying respect to ancestors by bringing them offerings is important. Visiting shrines and local pagodas is always a part of the activities. The celebration takes place sometime between the end of January through early February, depending on the Lunar calendar.
The Vietnamese Friendship Association of Omaha initiated MCC’s annual celebration. The 25th anniversary was held in 2018. The Vietnamese Friendship Association of Omaha members join MCC staff to create a Vietnamese New Year Committee. The Committee considers the actual date of the New Year, other community New Year celebrations and requests a Saturday evening to hold this celebration in the ITC Conference Center at the South Omaha Campus.