Throughout the month of September, the United States celebrates “Hispanic Heritage Month” as a way to honor and recognize the rich histories of the Hispanic community. A variety of cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and other events are held to celebrate the diverse heritage and contributions of the Hispanic community.
Hispanic heritage is the ancestry of people with Latin American origins. There are several different countries in Latin America, such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Chile. The population of each country varies, but in 2021, people of Mexican origin accounted for nearly 60 percent of the nation’s overall Hispanic population. In addition, many Latinos also speak English, making this a particularly diverse community. In fact, Latinos make up the largest minority group in the U.S.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an official monthlong celebration that is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. It is also supported by many other organizations and institutions, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Hispanic Heritage Month is one of the few times when students can learn about Latino history. The United States public education system does a poor job of teaching Latino history. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of the Hispanic and Latino people in the United States don’t prefer to be labeled as Latino or Hispanic.
In 1988, the first “Hispanic Heritage Month” was observed as a week-long celebration under the leadership of President Lyndon Johnson. That year, Congress passed Public Law 100-402, which expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to include a full month of celebration.
Hispanic Heritage Week also coincides with national independence days of several Latin American countries. During Hispanic Heritage Month, several countries celebrate their independence, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and Belize. Those countries’ independence days are on the 15th, the date on which Hispanic Heritage Month is also celebrated.
The United States celebrates “Dia de la Raza” on October 12. This national holiday is celebrated in the Spanish-speaking world to recognize the blend of indigenous and European heritage, as well as the history of mestizo communities. Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, the Library of Congress will host a variety of events to honor the Hispanic community.