Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the U.S. Latinx and Hispanic communities. The event, which ranges from September 15 to October 15, commemorates how those communities have influenced and contributed to American society at large.
WHEN IS HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH 2021?
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually from September 15 to October 15. It is a time to appreciate and celebrate the colorful cultures, rich histories, and diversity of the American Latino community.
HISTORY OF HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH:
The expression Hispanic or Latino (or the more recent term Latinx ) refers to a person’s culture or origin– regardless of race. On the 2020 Census form, people were counted as Hispanic or Latino or Spanish if they could identify as having Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or “another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.”
Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a celebratory week when it was first launched in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. The push to recognize the contributions of the Latinx community had gained momentum throughout the 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its spike and there was a growing awareness of the United States’ multicultural identities.
Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley– both heavily populated by members of the Hispanic and Latinx communities– wanted to recognize the role played by those communities throughout American history.
On September 17, 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-48, officially authorizing and requesting the president to issue annual proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called upon the “people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation the same day.
Hispanic Heritage Expands From a Week to a Month
From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan all issued the yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed the expanding the observance to cover its current 31-day period. Torres wanted more time so that the nation could “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.”
In 1988, Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois), submitted a similar bill that successfully passed Congress and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. And on September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush (who had been a 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 Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities,” Bush said.
In the decades since, National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamations have been made by every sitting president of the United States. Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 will last from Wednesday, September 15 2021 through Friday, October 15 2021.
HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH TIMELINE
1777 – Fighting for Freedom
The Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de GÃ¡lvez, joins General George Washington’s fight against British soldiers and helps win independence.
1845 – Texas Becomes a U.S. State
Texas joins the Union as the 28th state– Mexico had controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence.
1945 – Brothers in Arms
Over 300,000 Latinos enlist in the American military and fight in World War II.
1960s – Call for Recognition
The push to recognize the Latinx community gains momentum when the civil rights movement is at its peak.
June, 1968 – Hispanic Heritage Week
California Congressman George E. Brown introduces Hispanic Heritage Week.
1988 – Month Established
Hispanic Heritage Week is first observed under President Lyndon B. Johnson but it is Ronald Reagan who extends it to a month-long celebration.
July 1, 2019 – Largest Minority
The Hispanic population of the United States totals 60.6 million people, making it the largest ethnic minority.
2020 – Highlighting Hispanic Employees
The U.S. Department of State highlights biographies of outstanding Hispanic employees who support diplomatic efforts around the world.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month, United States Census Bureau
The Creation and Evolution of the National Hispanic Heritage Celebration, United States House of Representatives
National Hispanic Heritage Month, Library of Congress
History Of Hispanic Heritage Month