The National Park Service joins with many federal agencies, including the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Smithsonian Institution to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 to October 15. This month honors generations of Hispanic Americans whose culture and contributions have enriched the United States. The celebration also raises awareness of and work to address and dismantle the racism and discrimination that Hispanic people have historically experienced and continue to experience.
Throughout the country, parks and community organizations are celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. From a block party at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor to a family game night with Loteria, a Mexican version of Bingo that kids can play, these events will teach children about Hispanic culture and traditions while strengthening their respect for diversity.
But before we can celebrate, it’s important to understand the difference between Hispanic and Latino. The word Hispanic is a linguistic and geographic term that refers to the 21 countries with Spanish-speaking populations. The term Latino is a gender-neutral alternative to Hispanic that many prefer, as it focuses on the shared culture of the people who identify with this category.
Hispanic heritage is a vast and diverse group of people, with a wide variety of cultures, histories and experiences that span the globe. Hispanic heritage encompasses the cultures of Spain, Portugal, Latin America (including Mexico, Cuba, Central and South America), the Philippines and other former Spanish colonies in Asia (including Easter Island), as well as more than 20 different indigenous nations across the world.
In the United States, more than 27 million people say they are Hispanic or Latino. This includes a growing number of individuals who identify as multiracial. In fact, the percentage of Hispanics who say they are multiracial has doubled since 2010, according to a new report from the Urban Institute.
This increase is largely due to changes on the census forms that allow people to select multiple races and to growing racial diversity. It may also be linked to the fact that a growing number of Latinos are able to access economic opportunity and are building assets in their communities.
This is a time to celebrate the strength and resilience of Hispanic communities. But it’s also a time to reflect on the continuing legacy of Hispanic history in our nation and the challenges ahead, such as the persistent inequity in educational opportunities for our students. Those insights are why we’re featuring Connecticut’s Honorable Miguel Cardona, who was born to Puerto Rican parents and now leads the U.S. Department of Education, as our Hispanic Heritage Month Influencer. He reminds us that we need to be true partners with families in supporting their goals for their children’s education. Together, we can ensure that every child has the chance to succeed. We invite you to learn more about his inspiring story and to help him reach his goal of increasing equity for all families.