CA Legislature Honors Contributions of the Portuguese American Community

SCR 130 by Senator Tony Mendoza Declares June 10th as “Portugal Day 2016”

June 9, 2016

Sacramento - The State Senate today recognized the contributions of California’s Portuguese-American community by adopting Senate Concurrent Resolution 130 by Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), declaring June 10th as “Portugal Day” in California. A special ceremony featuring the Consul General of Portugal in San Francisco and Portuguese-American dignitaries from throughout the state was held on the Senate Floor following the vote. Full text of SCR 130 may be found below.

“Today, the California State Senate paid tribute to the contributions of the Portuguese-American community to the diverse fabric of California. SCR 130 declares June 10, 2016 as “Portugal Day” in California and provides the people of our state an opportunity to recognize the achievements, contributions, and history of this vibrant community,” said Senator Tony Mendoza.

“It's a great privilege and pleasure to be in Sacramento to witness the passing of SCR 130. The measure is a fitting tribute that makes us all very proud of the longstanding contributions and achievements of the Portuguese American community in California. I would like to express my gratitude to the Honorable Tony Mendoza for spearheading this meaningful and befitting resolution,” said Consul General of Portugal in San Francisco, Nuno Mathias.

In Portugal, June 10th is celebrated annually as “Portugal Day”, officially known as “Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas” (Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities). Although officially observed only in Portugal, Portuguese citizens and members of the Portuguese diaspora celebrate this holiday. The date commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís Vaz de Camões on June 10, 1580.

Luís Vaz de Camões wrote Portugal’s national epic poem “Os Lusíadas” celebrating the fifteenth century Portuguese explorations that brought fame and fortune to the country. The poem is considered one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature and has become a symbol for the Portuguese people. Added Senator Mendoza, “In California, Portuguese Americans are an integral part of our state, having made great contributions in the fields of agriculture, finance, technology, law, medicine, education, sports, media, the arts, the military, and government. It seems fitting that June 10th, 2016 also be celebrated as “Portugal Day” in California.

Currently, there are more than 350,000 Portuguese Americans residing in California. In 1870, Portuguese immigrants began arriving in the United States in relatively large numbers. At the time, the majority of Portuguese immigrants were from the Azores, and were primarily recruited to work on American whaling ships and to be farm workers. Between 1900 and 1940, as much as one-half of the Portuguese American community in California owned or operated a dairy farm, worked on a dairy farm, or worked in a dairy-supporting industry.

To this day, Portuguese Americans continue to thrive in the agricultural communities of the Santa Clara and San Joaquin Valleys.

Photos of today’s event may be found here: http://sd32.senate.ca.gov/portugal-day-june-9-2016

Full text of SCR 130:

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

SCR 130, as amended, Mendoza. Portugal Day

This act would declare June 10, 2016, as Portugal Day to celebrate Portuguese national heritage.

 

WHEREAS, In September 1542, Portuguese explorer João Rodrigues Cabrilho sailed a ship into San Diego Bay, thereby becoming the first European to explore the land now known as California. Cabrilho’s efforts included exploring the California coast, and he is credited with numerous coastal discoveries; and

WHEREAS, Portuguese immigrants began arriving in the United States in relatively large numbers beginning in 1870, with most of these immigrants being men from the Azores, who, for the most part, had been recruited to farm and to work on American whaling ships; and

WHEREAS, Between 1900 and 1940, as much as one-half of the Portuguese community in California owned or operated a dairy farm, worked on a dairy farm, or worked in a dairy-supporting industry. Applying the Portuguese belief in hard work and thriftiness, these pioneering Portuguese Americans were renowned for their work ethic and ingenuity, often reinvesting in their own businesses by buying more land and dairy cows; and

WHEREAS, Among the great Portuguese Americans who have contributed significantly to this country are: composer John Philip Sousa, best known for composing “Stars and Stripes Forever”; poet Emma Lazarus, best known for her sonnet about the Statue of Liberty, “The New Colossus”; architect William L. Pereira, best known for designing the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco; and singer and actress Carmen Miranda; and

WHEREAS, Portuguese Americans have made valuable and substantial contributions to every facet of California life, such as within the thriving agricultural communities of the Santa Clara and San Joaquin Valleys and through service in local, state, and federal office. Today, over 350,000 Portuguese Americans reside in California; and

WHEREAS, Portuguese national literary icon Luís Vaz de Camões wrote Portugal’s national epic poem, Os Lusíadas, celebrating the 15th century Portuguese explorations that brought fame and fortune to the country. The poem, considered one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature, became a symbol for the great feats of the Portuguese Empire; and

WHEREAS, Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas, translated as “Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities,” commemorates the death of Luís Vaz de Camões on June 10, 1580; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature hereby declares June 10, 2016, as Portugal Day, a day to celebrate Portuguese national heritage; and be it further

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

Senator Tony Mendoza, a Los Angeles native and former elementary school teacher in East Los Angeles, represents the 32nd Senate District encompassing portions of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. For more information about Senator Mendoza visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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