Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15

Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15th through October 15th, honors the rich culture and multifaceted traditions of Hispanic-Americans whose ancestors hail from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, as well as Central and South America. Recognizing their countless achievements and essential roles that helped shape America into what it is today, it is a time of great festivity and joyful ceremony.

Beginning in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Hispanic Heritage Month originated as Hispanic Heritage Week. September 15th was chosen as the inaugural date as a way to commemorate five countries’ day of independence: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It later grew into a month-long celebration in 1988 when President Ronald Reagan, signed it into law on August 17, 1988. The Latin American observance of Columbus Day, called Dia de la Raza (“day of the race”), occurs on October 12, within the celebration period.

Given the wealth and variety of cultures participating, there is much to embrace during this festive time. Latino art is exhibited, films are screened, music is performed, crafts are featured, regional food is indulged, and key figures from history are memorialized for their pivotal roles in the American narrative, including:

  • Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic female astronaut
  • Oscar Hijuelos, awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction—The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
  • Roberto Clemente, baseball player inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973
  • Bill Richardson, Governor and former congressman, Cabinet member, Ambassador and U.S. Presidential candidate
  • Sonia Sotomayor, first female Supreme Court Associate Justice

…and many, many others.

With so much culture worth celebrating and historical role models to admire and emulate, Hispanic Heritage Month offers the opportunity for Hispanic Americans to take pride in their past as they continue to help sculpt the present and dream of even brighter futures.

The colorful postcard above is perfect for posting or sending to someone special who is celebrating their rich heritage this coming month.



It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month

Over eighty United States congressmen and women; Nobel Prize winners; Pulitzer Prize winners; Oscar winners; Tony award winners; not to mention countless key military figures and frontiersmen.  These are just a handful of the achievements made by a multitude of Hispanic-Americans over the past two centuries.  But it wasn’t until 1968 that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, which later broadened into National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

Every 15th of September through the 15th of October, Hispanic-Americans are recognized for their leadership and pivotal roles in shaping our society.  From the days of our country’s fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War to modern day mavericks who revolutionized the world of entertainment, Latinos have oftentimes been at the forefront of many breakthroughs:

  • General Bernardo de Gálvez, who aided General George Washington during the Revolutionary War with a supply of arms, money, and other essentials.
  • Post-Civil War, irrigation techniques, which were deemed necessary in America’s Western territories, were learned from Mexicans.
  • Since the Revolutionary War, Hispanics have carried a proud tradition of serving in each war theUnited States has participated in, with thirty-eight Hispanics being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor throughout that time.
  • The archetype of the cowboy—or vaqueros—from the Old West derived from Hispanic culture.
  •  César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers Union, which gave harvest workers the means to negotiate labor contracts with growers of produce.
  • Famous Latino sports figures include: Roberto Clemente (baseball) , Lee Trevino(golf), Esteban Bellan (first Hispanic major league baseball player), and Nancy Lopez (golf).
  • In the world of entertainment, Cuban band leader and producer Desi Arnaz (I Love Lucy) pioneered the “three camera” technique for filming a TV sit-com that became the industry’s standard.
  • Rita Moreno, the first Hispanic (and second ever) to win an Oscar (West Side Story), a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy (for guest hosting The Muppet Show).

And the list goes on…. As clearly evident, Hispanic-Americans have not only helped lay the foundation for our country, but have played active architects in every facet of its design, both practically and recreationally.  Through ingenuity, innovation, and an unyielding strive for independence, Hispanic-Americans have been the bellwethers and keystone figures in our past and present who will undoubtedly serve as beacons to our nation’s future.