Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of Latin American and Hispanic communities in the United States. The event, which runs from September 15 to October 15, commemorates how these communities have influenced and contributed to American society as a whole.
The term Hispanic or Latin (or the more recent Latinx term) refers to a person’s culture or origin, regardless of race. On the 2020 census form, people were counted as Hispanic, Latin American, or Spanish if they could identify as being of Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “some other Hispanic descent.” , Latin-Spanish or Spanish ”.
Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a Memorial Week when it was first introduced in June 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. The drive to recognize the contributions of the Latinx community accelerated throughout the 1960s, when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of America’s multicultural identities.
Brown, who represented eastern Los Angeles and much of the San Gabriel Valley – both heavily populated by members of Hispanic and Latin American communities – wanted to recognize the role played by these communities throughout history. American.
On September 17, 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-48, authorizing and formally requiring the president to issue annual proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 to be the start of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called the “people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation of Hispanic Heritage Week on the same day.
Why is the date of Heritage History Month important
The timing of Hispanic Heritage Month coincides with Independence Day celebrations in several Latin American countries. September 15 was chosen as the kickoff because it coincided with the Independence Day celebrations of five “Central American neighbors” as Johnson called them – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. These five nations declared their independence from Spain on September 15, 1821.
In his proclamation, Johnson also recognized Mexico, which declared independence from Spain on September 16, 1810. Although not specifically mentioned by Johnson, Chile also celebrates its independence during this week (September 18, 1810). Spain) and Belize, which declared its independence from Britain on September 21, 1981 was also subsequently added to the list of nations specifically celebrated during what is now Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic heritage goes from a week to a month
From 1968 to 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all issued annual proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1987, US Representative Esteban E. Torres from California proposed that the observance be extended to cover his current 31-day period. Torres wanted more time for the nation to “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievements.”
In 1988, Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois) submitted a similar bill which was successfully passed by Congress and was enacted by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. And on September 14, 1989, the President George HW Bush (who had been the sponsor of the original Hispanic Heritage Week resolution while serving in the House in 1968) became the first President to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Month of Hispanic heritage.
“Not all of the contributions Hispanic Americans make to our society, however, are so visible or widely celebrated. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of tight-knit families and proud communities, ”said Bush.
In the decades that followed, proclamations of National Hispanic Heritage Month were made by every sitting President of the United States.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month, United States Census Bureau
The Creation and Evolution of the National Celebration of Hispanic Heritage, United States House of Representatives
National Hispanic Heritage Month, Library of Congress
National Hispanic Heritage Month, 1989, The America Presidency Project
Signing of the National Hispanic Heritage Week Bill, September 17, 1968, Politics