What is Hispanic Heritage Month?


National Hispanic Heritage Month in the USA

Every year, since 1968, the United States has recognized the contributions and presence of Hispanic and Latin Americans within the US American culture. What began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 (signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson) was expanded into Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

Why does Hispanic Heritage Month begin in the middle of September?
It begins on September 15th because this date marks the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua from Spain in 1821. The fact that it runs through October 15th allows the period to also cover the independence days of Mexico (September 16th, 1810 from Spain), Chile (September 18th, 1810 from Spain), and Belize (September 21st, 1981 from the UK).      

How many US Americans identify with Hispanic or Latin American origins?
According to Pew Research, the Latin American population in the United States reached nearly 58 million in 2016, with 34.4% being immigrants and 65.6% being U.S. born. California has the largest Hispanic population (~15.28 million) of any state.

What is the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino?
Hispanic refers to people of Spanish-speaking origins. Costa Ricans, Mexicans, and Chileans may all be considered Hispanic because of their Spanish language roots, however this is only one element of their cultural identity.

Latino (an abbreviated form of latinoamericano, the Spanish word for Latin American) refers to people from the geographic region of Latin America. Belizeans, Brazilians, or Nicaraguans may all be considered Latinos as they come from countries within Latin America. As Latino and the feminine version Latina are gender-specific, the term LatinX has sometimes been adopted as a gender-neutral term instead.

Who achieved some famous Hispanic firsts?
Sonia Maria Sotomayor, whose parents are both from Puerto Rico, became the first US Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic descent.

Franklin R. Chang Diaz, born in San José, Costa Rica, became the first Hispanic astronaut when NASA selected him in 1980.

Ellen Ochoa, whose father was Mexican, became the world’s first Hispanic female astronaut when NASA selected her in 1990.

Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates legend from Puerto Rico, was the first Hispanic player to be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame.


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