September 15th to October 15th celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American nations. September 15th is significant because it’s the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on September 16th. Chile celebrates its Independence Day on September 18th. Belize declared its independence from Great Britain on September 21st. Additionally, October 12th is a U.S. federal holiday, Columbus Day. Alternatively, many cities and states recognize October 12th as Indigenous Peoples' Day. Día de la Raza (Day of the [Hispanic] People) has been celebrated across Latin America since 1917. (Editors, 2020)
This monthlong celebration honors the history, culture, accomplishments, achievements, and contributions of past and present Hispanic and Latino/a/x Americans, whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Their history, cultural diversity, and many accomplishments have contributed to and enriched all aspects of US American culture.
In June 1968, Hispanic Heritage Week was introduced by California Congressman George E. Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley. Congressman Brown wanted to celebrate and recognize the important role and contributions of the Latinx community throughout American history. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation on September 17, 1968. It was expanded to Hispanic Heritage Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and enacted into law that same year. On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush became the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. (Editors, 2020)
Many U.S. government agencies recognize this important cultural heritage celebration, including the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Editors, History.com. “Hispanic Heritage Month.” HISTORY. A&E Television Networks, September 11, 2020. https://www.history.com/topics/hispanic-history/hispanic-heritage-month.
- “Hispanic Heritage Month - NPS Celebrates! (U.S. National Park Service).” www.nps.gov, September 18, 2020. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/hispanic-heritage-month.htm.
- “National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2019.” Hispanicheritagemonth.gov, 2019. https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/.
- Wikipedia Contributors. “Columbus Day.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, May 17, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day.
- Wikipedia Contributors. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, September 12, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Peoples%27_Day.
Written by: Emily Kawasaki