What You Should Know About Hispanic Heritage Month

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Every year, for 30 days, the United States officially recognizes the contributions Hispanic and Latinx Americans have made to society.

Our community has made profound impacts in culturally shaping and enhancing society through our rich diversity and customs, as well as through our enormous strength to persevere and fight in the face of adversity. At this moment, with the current administration’s continued attacks on our community, it is vital we highlight our stories and use this month-long observation to fight back falsehoods with truth, together. We’re getting things rolling con un poco de cositas you should know about regarding this commemorative celebration that pays tribute to and recognizes the power of Latinxs.

Why is it important to celebrate?

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When we learn about the contributions of our ancestors it makes us proud of the role our heritage has played in society. Our people and the movements we have championed are acknowledged as pivotal moments or figures in history. For all future generations of Latinxs this representation in society can instill orgullo and a connection to our roots. The achievements of Latinxs have long been whitewashed or completely left out of classrooms’ history books. With the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, we can pay respect and honor our people in the same way American children are taught to honor the founding fathers of the United States.

Hispanic Heritage Month goes from September 15th to October 15th.

Originally, the commemoration started in 1968 as just a week long observation under President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a 30 day celebration starting on September 15th and ending on October 15th.

Why does it start in the middle of the month of september?

The day of September 15th was chosen as a significant starting date as it marks the anniversaries of the independence day for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—all of which declared independence in 1821. Then followed by the independence days of Mexico on the 16th, Chile on the 18th, and Belize on the 21st.

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Almost one fifth of the U.S. popluation is Hispanic or Latinx.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the Latinx population in the U.S. reached 57.5 million in 2016 .The Hispanic or Latinx population is now the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority; constituting 17.8 percent of the nation’s total population. It is estimated that by the year 2060, the Hispanic or Latinx population will be 119 million; making up 28.6 percent of the country’s population by that date.

How is Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated?

Throughout the United States, events and festivals take place to honor our community’s culture. These festivities include film screenings, concerts, festivals with food and crafts, museum exhibitions, sports events, and educational activities in schools and universities. Pick up a copy of or visit your local newspaper’s website or that of your city’s to see what events are currently scheduled in your community to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month. For example, in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Institution has scheduled numerous events throughout their museums highlighting notable Latinx figures and our cultural heritage. Check them out here. NPR has published a list of upcoming podcast episodes that showcase Hispanic Heritage—see it here.