Darren M. Palmer
What Is Hispanic Heritage Month?
Each year, the United States of America celebrates the National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. This is done to honor and recognize the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
So, when and why did we begin to acknowledge this?
In June 1968, California Congressman George E. Brown introduced the idea in order to recognize all the contributions of the Hispanic and Latinx community, which gained momentum throughout the 1960s. This was when the civil rights movement was at its peak and there was a growing awareness of US’ multicultural identities.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, who at the time said, "The people of Hispanic descent are the heirs of missionaries, captains, soldiers, and farmers who were motivated by a young spirit of adventure, and a desire to settle freely in a free land."
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended the National celebration to a 30-day period, starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. This period of observation was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.
Initially, this recognition was meant to celebrate the independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. When the observation was expanded to a month, the dates were chosen to include the celebrations of other Latino and Hispanic countries.
September 15 is quite significant, as it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, also falls within this 30-day period. As such, all Latino and Hispanic countries have been included.
The Hispanic Heritage Month is a tribute celebrated in the United States in order to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success.
Today, the U.S. Hispanic population has reached 62.1 million in 2020, up from 50.5 million in 2010. Therefore, they have played a major role in driving U.S. population growth over the past decade.
Also, the number of Latinos who say they are multiracial has increased dramatically. As such, more than 20 million Latinos identified with more than one race on the 2020 census, up from just 3 million in 2010, with people of Mexican origin accounting for nearly 62% (about 37.2 million) of the nation’s overall Hispanic population as of 2019.
The official government site that provides additional information for this is: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
-by Joanne B.