Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from September 15th to October 15th in the United States. The month is a celebration of Hispanic Heritage and a time to recognize and honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans in the nation’s history, culture, and achievements.
The history and why we celebrate
National Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. Twenty years later in 1988 it was expanded to cover a 30-day period by President Ronald Reagan.
Many who are unfamiliar with Hispanic Heritage Month often wonder why the celebration begins in the middle of September rather than at the beginning. September 15th was chosen as the start date to recognize and commemorate the anniversary of the independence day for various Latin American countries.
September 15th marks the independence of five Hispanic countries who declared their independence in 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th, respectively.
In addition to recognizing the independence of various Latin American countries, the month is a celebration of Hispanic accomplishment. We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as a reminder of all that Hispanic Americans have achieved and helped shape the nation.
“Our communities are represented by Hispanic elected officials, and our children are taught by Hispanic teachers. Our future will be shaped by Hispanic engineers who are working to develop new technology that will help us grasp our clean energy future and by the skilled union workers who are going to build it,” said President Biden in White House proclamation.
The U.S. Hispanic population is a powerhouse that continues to grow to new heights. According to the 2020 census data, the Hispanic population reached 62.1 million, or 18.7% of the total population in 2020. Additionally, the 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business in collaboration with the Latino Business Action Network revealed that the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last 10 years compared to just 1% for all other small businesses. Were it not for the growth in the number of Latino-owned firms, the total number of small businesses in the U.S. would actually have declined between 2007 and 2012.
“National Hispanic Heritage Month is an important reminder of how much strength we draw as a Nation from our immigrant roots and our values as a Nation of immigrants,” President Biden continued.
Ways to observe Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month can be observed in many ways. As a celebration of culture and history, individuals can honor the month by engaging with Hispanic created content such as books, films, music, and more. The National Hispanic Heritage Month website, hosted by The Library of Congress, offers many activities, events, and resources to help celebrate and educate.
Another way to honor the month is to support Hispanic-owned small businesses. Minority small businesses have suffered the most in the past year due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Many Hispanic-owned businesses struggled to stay afloat or are still struggling. Supporting these businesses helps put money back into the community and honor the work of Hispanic Americans, ensuring that these businesses will continue.
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Hispanic Heritage Month asks us to look around and take in all that Hispanic Americans have achieved, both in history and today. It asks us to remember we are a diverse and extraordinary community. It asks us to be visible and speak our history. We celebrate by remembering. We celebrate by learning. We celebrate by supporting.