National Hispanic Heritage Month, begins each year on September 15 (through October 15), celebrates the U.S. Latinx and Hispanic history, culture, and contributions to the overall U.S. culture.
"The term 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, History.com)
Introduced in June 1968*, the celebration of Hispanic Heritage was initially a week long commemoration to recognize the contributions of Latinx communities. Throughout the 1960s and the civil rights movement, there was a growing awareness of the United States' multicultural identities and a push to recognize the contributions of Latinx communities. In 1988, Congress expanded the commemoration to a month.
In the last 10 years, the Hispanic population increased by 23%, and had a faster growth rate than the nation overall (+7%). According to the U.S. 2020Census, the U.S. Hispanic population grew to 62.1 million people in 2020, up from 50.5 million in the previous Census in 2010. Therefore, Hispanics have played a major role in U.S. population growth and continue to the changing make-up of the U.S..
Why September 15-October 15?
While it may seem strange to start the Hispanic Heritage Month in the middle of a calendar month, the timing is of consequence. It was selected because it coincides with the Independence Day celebrations of several Latin American nations (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua all celebrate theirs on Sept. 15th). In addition, Mexico, Chile, and Belize celebrate theirs throughout the following week (Sept. 16, Sept. 18, and Sept. 21 respectively).
*An interesting note: This was introduced to congress by California Congressman George E. Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a majority of San Gabriel Valley..
This guide is intended as a non-exhaustive resource on contemporary Hispanic heritage.
In this guide we strive to highlight the stories across the wide range of lived experience of Hispanic and LatinX Americans, while also acknowledging and denouncing the tragically persistent trend of xenophobia, racism, and violence in the United States.
The OCC community is welcome to suggest resources, guides, or any other information relevant to this guide by contacting Erin Gratz.