Musicians playing the taiko drums

Campus Celebrations

El Camino College celebrates its diversity through various cultural heritage months throughout the year. 

Celebrate Together

Through the annual events and cultural highlights on El Camino's campus, we'll raise awareness, celebrate diversity, honor history and foster inclusion across campus.


In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson instituted the first week-long celebration to raise awareness of African-Americans' contributions to history. Prior to this time, little information could be found regarding African-American history. Important achievements were left out of history books, and there was a general misconception that African-Americans had made little contribution to U.S. society. Fifty years later, the week became a month, and today, February is celebrated as African-American History Month.

The month of February was chosen because it celebrates the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom dramatically affected the lives of African-Americans. Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was a writer, lecturer, editor, and civil rights activist who escaped slavery at age 21 and went on to campaign for the abolition of slavery, establish a newspaper and hold the Office of Minister to Haiti. He was a major voice in the anti-slavery/civil rights movements of his time. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), as the sixteenth president of the United States, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, thereby declaring that all slaves within the Confederacy would be permanently freed.

Learn more about Black History Month.

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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.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month.

Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

Learn more about Women's History Month.

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The annual Dr. Nadine Ishitani Hata Memorial Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of the beauty of nature throughout Japan that sees the Japanese gather together for food, drink, songs and friendship while the flowers are in bloom.

The festival is named after El Camino’s former vice president of academic affairs, who passed away in 2005. An internationally known scholar who was extremely involved in academia and community work, Dr. Hata was instrumental in bringing the cherry trees to campus in 2001. American Honda Motor Co., Inc. donated the trees as a traditional gesture of friendship, similar to the cherry trees given to the United States by Japan in 1912. American Honda also generously contributed to an endowed scholarship in Dr. Hata’s name in 2006. 

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Arab American Heritage Month celebrates the Arab American heritage and culture and pays tribute to the contributions of Arab Americans and Arabic-speaking Americans. Beginning in the 1990s, Arab American heritage was celebrated sporadically in various states at different times of the year, primarily in school districts. It wasn't until April 19, 2021, that the first recognition on a federal level was issued, which was published as a White House letter from president Joe Biden recognizing April as the National Arab American Heritage Month, otherwise called NAAHM.

The recognition of the month of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month by the Department of State was mainly influenced by independent advocate efforts across the United States calling for inclusivity. Most notably the petition and social change campaign by Pierre Subeh, a Middle Eastern-American business expert and author. He orchestrated a self-funded social awareness campaign with over 250 billboards across the country asking the Federal government to recognize the month of April as the National Arab American Heritage Month and issue an official proclamation. His social change campaign called the recognition to be critical as it celebrates Middle Eastern heritage in combatting post-9/11 anti-Arab sentiments and recognizing the social difficulties that Arab Americans face every day in their communities. 

According to the Arab American Institute (AAI), countries of origin for Arab Americans include Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, and Yemen.

The largest subgroup is by far the Lebanese Americans, followed by; Egyptian Americans, Syrian Americans, Iraqi Americans, Moroccan Americans, Palestinian Americans and Jordanian Americans. Approximately 1/4 of all Arab Americans claimed two ancestries. A number of these ancestries are considered undercounted, given the nature of Ottoman immigration to the US during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A number of indigenous non-Arab ethnic groups in Western Asia and North Africa that may have lived in regions of Arab countries and are now resident in the United States are not always classified as Arabs but some may claim an Arab identity or a dual Arab/non-Arab identity; they include Assyrians, Arameans, Jews (in particular Mizrahi Jews, some Sephardi Jews), Copts, Kurds, Iraqi Turkmens, Mandeans, Circassians, Shabaki, Armenians, Greeks, Italians, Yazidis, Persians, Kawliya/Romani, Syrian Turkmens, Somalis, Djiboutians, Berbers (especially Arab-Berbers), and Nubians. 

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The roots of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month can be traced back to 1976, when Jeanie Jew, president of the Organization of Chinese American Women, contacted government officials in response to the lack of Asian American and Pacific Islander representation in the U.S. bicentennial celebrations that same year. The observance began in 1979 as Asian Heritage Week, established by congressional proclamation.

In May 1990, the holiday was expanded further when President George Bush signed a proclamation making it a month-long for that year. On October 23, 1992, Bush signed legislation designating May as the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The month of May was chosen to commemorate two significant events in history: the first Japanese immigration to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 (Golden Spike Day). The diversity and common experiences of the many ethnic groups are celebrated during Asian American, Native Hawaiian  and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with numerous community festivals as well as government-sponsored activities.

Learn more about AANHPI Heritage Month.

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Jewish American Heritage Month is an annual recognition and celebration of American Jews' achievements and contributions to the United States of America during the month of May.

President George W. Bush first proclaimed the month on April 20, 2006, as a result of cooperation with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), as well as the Jewish Museum of Florida and the South Florida Jewish Community. Since then, annual proclamations have been made by Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump, and Biden.  In 2020 the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia repositioned Jewish American Heritage Month to empower communities across the country to celebrate the inspiring history of Jewish people in America; educate diverse public audiences about Jewish culture; and spark crucial conversations about the American Jewish present and future.

The president wanted to proclaim a month that would recognize the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to America and the American culture. On February 14, 2006, Congress issued House Concurrent Resolution 315.

The concurrent resolution (i.e., a non-binding legislative measure that lacks the force of law, appropriate when a law is not necessary—such as awards or recognitions) was passed unanimously, first in the United States House of Representatives in December 2005 and later in the United States Senate in February 2006.

The Jewish American Heritage Month Coalition states that, "JAHM also enables the exploration of the meaning of religious pluralism, cultural diversity, and participation in American civic culture."

According to Library of Congress hosted website, Jewish American Heritage Month (, May was chosen as the month of Jewish American Heritage Month because of the successful 350th Anniversary Celebration of Jews in America marking the Jewish arrival in New Amsterdam.


In recent years, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals did not have a specific month during which to celebrate and commemorate Pride Days in the United States. On June 11, 1999, President Clinton issued a proclamation designating June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. In the spirit of honoring equality and freedom, the president said, "I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life."

The most significant June event in the LGBTQ+ history was the Stonewall Inn Rebellion, a three-day protest in 1969 in New York City's Greenwich Village, during which patrons protested against unfair police discrimination and harassment. It marked the first time the LGBTQ+ community joined together to fight for its civil rights, earning national attention and gaining a foothold in the struggle for equality. This month is dedicated to appreciating the contributions and significance of the LGBTQ+ community, and applauding gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and transgender pride.

Learn more about LGBTQ Pride Month.

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Note: Latinx Heritage Month is nationally celebrated during September 15 through October 15.

Latinx Heritage Month honors the culture, heritage and contributions of Latinxs each year. The event began in 1968, when Congress deemed the week including September 15 and 16 as "National Hispanic Heritage Week" to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historical events: Independence Day, honoring the formal signing of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15, 1821), and Mexico's Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control (September 16, 1810).

It was not until 1988 that the recognition was expanded to a month-long period, made to include El Dia de la Raza on October 12th, which celebrates the influences of the people who came after Christopher Columbus and the multicultural, multiethnic society that evolved as a result, Chile's Independence Day on September 18th (El Dieciocho), and Belize's Independence Day on September 21st. Each year a different theme for the month is selected and a poster is created to reflect that theme.

Learn more about Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month.

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In response to an effort by many to gain a day of recognition for the great influence American Indians have had upon the U.S., Congress designated "Native American Awareness Week" in October of 1976. Yearly legislation was enacted to continue the tradition until August of 1990, when President Bush approved the designation of November as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Each year, a similar proclamation is issued. President Clinton noted in 1996, "Throughout our history, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have been an integral part of the American character. Against all odds, America's first peoples have endured, and they remain a vital cultural, political, social, and moral presence."

November is an appropriate month for the celebration because it is traditionally a time when many American Indians hold fall harvest and world-renewal ceremonies, Pow Wows, dances, and various feasts. The holiday recognizes hundreds of different tribes, approximately 250 languages and celebrates the history, tradition and values of American Indians. "National American Indian Heritage Month" serves as a reminder of the positive effect Native peoples have had on the cultural development and growth of the U.S., as well as the struggles and challenges they have faced.   

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