Holidays and Observances
In December, we celebrate the many achievements made in the name of Human Rights worldwide during National Human Rights Month.
Specifically, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day. On this day, in 1948, 192 member states of the United Nations signed the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). (UN.org)
This landmark document, drafted by representatives of various legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, is comprised of 30 Articles and outlines the standard achievements of all societies and all people. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the committee that drafted the document. (UN.org)
Articles of the UDHR include standards for equality in dignity and rights, protection from slavery and servitude, the right to leave and return to one's country of origin, and the assurance of freedom of thought and religion. While the UDHR is not legally binding, the articles have been incorporated into international and regional human rights treaties. (Foundation of International Human Rights Law)
Some ratified treaties that have origins in the UDHR are:
- The International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1965).
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979).
The UDHR has been translated into almost 500 languages. Currently, all 192 member states of the UN have ratified at least one article, with the majority confirming four or more. (Foundation of International Human Rights Law)
In 1959, the UN adopted the Declaration on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) in response to the hardships children experienced during World War II. The UNCRC outlines fundamental rights for children, which includes allowing them to express their views in all matters that directly affect them, that member states will protect children from mental and physical abuse, and that member states will actively work to ensure that children receive a high standard of health care and medical treatment.
These treaties paved the way for smaller and more local human rights organizations. In June 2020, Mayor Brian Arrigo reactivated the Revere Human Rights Commission (HRC) after approximately 20 years of being dormant. The newly-formed Commission held its first meeting on Thursday, October 1st of that year.
Mayor Arrigo recommends and the City Councilors appoint the commissioners whose mission consists of “empowering human and civil rights and empowering all people of Revere by ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, have equitable opportunities, equal access, and are treated with dignity, respect, fairness, and justice.” (Revere HRC, January 7, 2021). Some of the topics discussed include cultural events, restorative justice (e.g., the Restorative Justice Circle), and community forums on diversity, race, equity, and inclusion (e.g., UNH 21-Day Equity Habit Building Challenge) to educate and encourage residents of Revere to participate in civic engagement. These initiatives have been carried out in partnership with Revere Public Schools and other community-based organizations.
The HRC meets in person on the first Thursday of every month. The meetings are open to the public, and the Commission welcomes feedback and commentary. Community members can attend meetings in the Revere City Hall Council Chambers. Each session is also streamed live on the RevereTV YouTube channel. Community members can also participate over Zoom.
Recently, four members of the HRC – Fire Chief Chris Bright, Dr. Lourenço Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Inclusion, immigration lawyer Molly McGee, Esq., and Kourou Pich, Executive Director of HarborCOV, visited the Susan B. Anthony Middle School to participate in their Community Civics Event. They discussed community engagement, voting rights, local government, policy-making, and Ms. Pich's work to support victims and survivors of domestic violence. The HRC encouraged all students to become agents of change by engaging in civic work and bringing their voices to the HRC meetings.
At Revere High School, Mark Fellowes (History teacher) runs the Model UN club for students who wish to learn more about the UN and learn strategies for presenting ideas on complicated issues. In the Model UN, students take on the roles of diplomats from various countries worldwide and work with other students to build solutions for human health, dignity, and safety. Students travel to local venues to participate in the Model UN process, representing countries or individuals on committees to discuss issues such as vaccine equity, cryptocurrency, and climate change.
For community members wishing to get involved in equity and human rights issues, students, families, and other community members are encouraged to join the Revere Public School Equity Advisory Board (EAB) and the Racial Equity Working Groups (REWG). The EAB meets once a month (Tuesday) at 3:00 pm in the School Committee room at Revere High School. The EAB and its working groups meet monthly to discuss matters concerning diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the district and how these big concepts inter-relate to inform and shape institutional policies and practices for sustainable systems and classroom change to support all students.
In the 74 years since the signing of the UDHR, the global community has made great strides to ensure all citizens are afforded the same fundamental human rights. There are opportunities for everyone to get involved in this work. You can use this resource from the Council of Europe to find simple ways to get involved in human rights issues this month and throughout the year.
|Families visit their relatives' graves and build small ofrendas to reflect the ones in their homes. These ofrendas, like the ones in private homes, are decorated with the favorite food and drink of the deceased, as well as cempasúchil and photographs, Some people stay in the cemetery all night waiting for the souls of their dearly departed to return.|
|The original legend of Dia de los Muertos says that a person was believed to travel to Chicunamictlán, the Land of the Dead, upon dying. Only after getting through nine challenging levels, a journey of several years, could a person's soul finally reach Mictlán, the final resting place. Celebrated in August, Nahua rituals had families leaving food and drink for their relatives on the arduous journey to the afterlife. This became the basis for modern Day of the Dead celebrations (History).|
When European settlers began arriving in what is now North America, they set out to convert the Indigenous people to Christianity. To continue celebrating their traditional holidays, Indigenous people would move their holidays to coincide with traditional Christian ones. Although the original Dia de los Muertos celebrations were in August, the new religious rules marshaled the celebrations to October to coincide wtih the Catholic celebrations of All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day (Edsite).
|Now, many Hispanic communities have a series of celebrations and festivals leading up to the holiday. While larger celebrations are in Mexican cities like Oaxaca, many urban American cities also have large celebrations, including San Antonio, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. Recently popularized by the Disney/Pixar film Coco, it is common to see Halloween costumes modeled after the calaveras.|
|In 2008, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) added the holiday to its list Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which acknowledges that cultural heritage is not limited to artifacts, but also traditions (University Park Research Guides). We must continue to recognize these celebrations and traditions. They are a part of our collective history, and we owe it to ourselves, the global community, and especially the people to whom these holidays belong to continue to recognize and teach ourselves about these traditions.|
Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year, from September 15th - October 15th, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long observance that celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The start date of September 15th coincides with the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence Days on September 16th and 18th, respectively.
Indigenous People’s Day falls on October 10th (also known as Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race). Dia de la Raza honors and celebrates countries and people who Spain and other European countries conquered.
The City of Revere has a broad Hispanic community, comprised of those born here and immigrants from countries such as Peru, Columbia, Honduras, and Guatemala. Most Hispanic countries have representation in our city.
Revere is an incredibly diverse community, with over 60 spoken languages. 32.08% of the population of Revere speaks Spanish fluently! (2020 Census)
Food is an important part of any culture, and the restaurants in Revere reflect its diverse population. Hispanic food of all varieties can easily be found within the 10.3m² of the city.
Some notable Hispanic Americans include Sandra Sotomayor (the first Hispanic person to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court), Roberto Clemente (the first Latino player inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame), Ellen Ochoa (the first Hispanic women to go to space), and Carlos Santana (10 time Grammy Winning songwriter and guitarist.)
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we interviewed City of Revere Human Resources Director Claudia Correa, Revere High School Deputy Principal Caitlin Reilly, and Revere High School Family Liaison Sandra Figueroa, to find out what Hispanic Heritage Month means to them and how we can all celebrate.
Take some time between September 15th and October 15th to learn more about Hispanic Heritage and the history of Hispanic American culture.
For day-by-day events during Hispanic Heritage Month, visit this resource: Library of Congress