A Reflection on National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 2023

In observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Williams & Connolly asked Partner Toby Romero to reflect on the month, honor the remarkable contributions of Hispanic Americans, and share what it means to him.

“Hispanic Heritage Month reminds me how far our country has come.  In 1941, when my father was born, his parents gave him an ‘American’ sounding name and forced him to speak English even though my grandmother spoke very little herself.  They did not do this because they were ashamed of who they were, but to protect their son from discrimination.  Assimilate.  Don’t stand out as Mexican.  My own children were born more than 60 years later into a much more inclusive society.  Carmen and I gave each of them names more aligned with our cultural heritage than my father’s name.  Although our country has come a long way, the journey is not over.  When I see politicians and elected officials comfortable denigrating immigrants from Latin America and using them as props, it is quite clear that racism is still alive in our country.  The Romeros, DeAndas, Fernandezes, and Peñas in my family are not criminals or a drag on society.  They are farmers, doctors, carpenters, nurses, educators, pilots, lawyers, accountants, judges, business executives, mothers, fathers, and veterans who fought for this country.  I am proud of what they have accomplished, and I am thankful to all who have welcomed them.  I look forward to the progress we will all continue to make together.” -Toby Romero

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