National Hispanic Heritage Month, also known as Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, is celebrated every year in the United States from September 15 to October 15.
This month-long celebration commemorates and recognizes the contributions that Hispanic and Latinx Americans have made throughout history to the achievements and advancement of the United States.
At the same time, National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the cultures of those of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, Central and Southern American descent, and how their customs and traditions enrich American culture.
It is important to note that Hispanic and Latinx refer to someone's origin or culture, regardless of their race.
History of National Hispanic Heritage Month
During the Civil Rights Movement, in the 1960s, there was in the United States a push to recognize the contributions of the many different communities that make the country's multicultural identity.
In 1968, Congressman George E. Brown of California wanted to honor the role that the Hispanic and Latinx communities played in America, throughout history. So, in June of that year, he introduced National Hispanic Heritage Week.
Congress passed a law on September 17, 1968, that made National Hispanic Heritage Week official and authorised the president to make an annual declaration to mark the beginning of this observance. The first National Hispanic Heritage Week was proclaimed on that same day by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
From a Week to a Month of Celebrations
The first proposal to extend the National Hispanic Heritage Week celebrations to a whole 31-day period was made in 1987 by Rep. Esteban E. Torres. This would give people more time to organize the proper events and activities needed to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx culture, and their achievements.
In 1988, Senator Paul Simon amended the proposition sponsored by Rep. Torres. This bill was presented to Congress and signed into law by President Regan. In September of 1989, President George H. W. Bush officially declared the first-ever National Hispanic Heritage Month, to be observed from September 15 to October 15.
Why is September 15 the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month?
September 15 is a significant date for many Hispanic and Latin American countries, as it is their Independence Day. El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua became independent from Spain on that date in 1821. Mexico also declared their independence from Spain on the next day, on September 16, 1810.
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