September 15 marks a special time for Hispanic and Latin-X communities across the United States. It is the beginning of the 31-day acknowledgment of the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America in the nationwide celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. There are so many important facts to learn about Hispanic Heritage month and how it began.
Originally founded as Hispanic Heritage Week by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it was later expanded into a month-long celebration during President Ronald Reagan's administration in 1988. Then later modified to a 31-day holiday by President George H.W. Bush in 1989.
This informative list will help you uncover facts about Hispanic Heritage Month.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins during a sentimental time for several Hispanic and Latin-X countries
If you're wondering why Hispanic Heritage month begins halfway into September, it's because the date is very special to many countries across the Hispanic and Latin-X diaspora. September 15 commemorates the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua declared their independence from Spain on September 15, while Chile celebrates its independence on September 18.
Hispanic Heritage Week was established by legislation sponsored by multiple congressmen
In 1968, Congressmen George E. Brown, Edward R. Roybal, and Henry B. Gonzalez introduced legislation calling for the celebration of the contributions of American citizens of Hispanic descent for a week-long celebration. President Lyndon B. Johnson implemented the observance in Proclamation 3869.
Efforts to expand Hispanic Heritage Week were first documented in 1967
Representative Esteban Torres submitted HR 3182, a bill to expand Hispanic Heritage Week. According to the United States House of Representatives, Torres expressed that supporters of the legislation "want the American people to learn of our heritage. We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science." Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.
Hispanic Heritage Week was expanded in 1988
Illinois Senator Paul Simon introduced S. 2200, a bill that amended the original legislation, ultimately expanding Hispanic Heritage Week into a month. That bill passed the Senate and Congress and was signed into law on August 17, 1988, by President Ronald Reagan.
Hispanic Heritage Month was first proclaimed as a national observance in 1989
On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Month as a national observance. Since then, every president has given a Presidental Proclamation acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month.
Numerous Hispanic countries are celebrated during Hispanic Heritage Month
In total, there are 20 Hispanic countries and one territory acknowledged during Hispanic Heritage Month. They include Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The term Hispanic was first recognized by the US government in the 1970s
Congress passed a law calling for information about residents from Spanish-speaking countries to be documented. Since then, the word "Hispanic" has been used as an "ethnicity" in various forms for government, education, and employment purposes.
The term Latin-X has been used for over a decade
According to OprahDaily.com, the term Latinx originated in the mid-2000s. Joseph M. Pierce revealed Latinx emerged "in activist circles primarily in the US as an expansion of earlier gender-inclusive variations such as a Latino/A (with the slash) and Latin@."
Latin-X has gained popularity as an ethnicity, but a 2020 study by pewresearch.org found that only 3% of Hispanics across the US identify as Latin-X.
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