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 US American culture. The recognition began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law. Then, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded it into Hispanic Heritage Month.


Why does Hispanic Heritage Month begin in the middle of September?

It begins on September 15th because this date marks the independence of five countries from Spain in 1821: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It runs through October 15th to include three more independence days: 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. This includes 34.4% who are immigrants and 65.6% who are 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. Consequently, 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. Therefore, Belizeans, Brazilians, or Nicaraguans may all identify as Latinos because they come from countries within Latin America. The words Latino and the feminine version Latina are gender-specific. As a result, the term LatinX, a gender-neutral term, is often used instead.


Who achieved some famous Hispanic firsts?

Sonia Maria Sotomayor. Her  parents are both from Puerto Rico and she became the first US Supreme Court Justice of Hispanic descent.

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

Ellen Ochoa. Her father was Mexican. She 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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