September 15th marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month! I find heritage and history months very important because they are times when we can learn about all kinds of culture and history that we didn't know before. Hispanic Heritage Month is especially important to me, as I am half Puerto Rican. So I thought I'd share a bit about its history and significance.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of the history and culture of the Hispanic and Latinx communities in the U.S., and how those communities influenced and contributed to American society.
September 15th is a significant day because it is the anniverary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Also, September 16th is independence day for Chile and September 18th is Mexico's independence day.
Hispanic heritage month started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, as Hispanic Heritage Week. Raising awareness of the contributions of the Latinx community had increased during the 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Week, presidents issued public statements and hosted receptions to praise Hispanic American contributions to U.S. society. In addition, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus spent the week citing examples of Hispanic American contributions to the U.S., drawing media attention to legislative interests for Hispanic Americans, and networking with civil rights activists.
In 1987, U.S. representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding Hispanic Heritage Week to a month, because he wanted more time for the nation to "properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement." Senator Paul Simon of Illinois passed a similar bill, that was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in August 17, 1988.
So be sure to take advantage of this month. Read some history. Learn about some culture. Honestly, we should be learning about and celebrating culture all the time, not exclusively during the 30 days set aside for it. But setting aside a certain time really encourages people to learn about this stuff. So let's all contribute to a more educated, aware community, and do just that.