The history behind Hispanic Heritage Month

How the 31-day observation and celebration of Hispanic and Latin cultures began

Hispanic Heritage Month 2021
Hispanic Heritage Month 2021

It’s September 15, and that means Hispanic Heritage Month is upon us.

Each year, Americans observe the month from September 15 to October 15 in celebrating of the Hispanic cultures from around the world and that now make up a significant part of the United States. The nation’s 60.6 million Hispanics represent 18.5 percent of the total population, according to 2019 U.S. Census figures.

It’s a time to celebrate the people, history, music, food and contributions of Americans with Hispanic heritage from Spain, Mexico, Central and South Americas, and the Caribbean.

According to History.com, Hispanic Heritage Month actually began as a commemorative week, like many of our other observed periods like Women’s History Month. It was first introduced in June 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown, as part of a growing push throughout that decade as more awareness and appreciation for cultures in the U.S. began to emerge.

In September 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-48 which called for annual proclamations from the president declaring September 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and President Lyndon B. Johnson issued that first presidential proclamation that day.

Those yearly proclamations continued through 1988. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush, who was a sponsor of the original Week resolution more than 20 years prior, was the first president to declare the period between September 15 to October 15 National Hispanic Heritage Month. It has continued to be declared by every sitting president since.

The reason the those dates in particular are significant has everything to do with Hispanic cultures themselves. That month encompasses the independence days of many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.

To find out more about that part of the history, click here.


About the Author:

Tara Evans is an executive producer and has been with News 6 since January 2013. She currently spearheads News 6 at Nine and specializes in stories with messages of inspiration, hope and that make a difference for people -- with a few hard-hitting investigations thrown in from time to time.