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The Rich History of Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month

Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month (LHHM) is from September 15 to October 15. Dedicated to celebrating the culture and history of Latinx people in the United States, Congress implemented LHHM in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week. The week was later expanded to a month in 1988.

Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month offers us the opportunity to learn about, explore, and celebrate the incredible influence Latinx people have had on the United States for generations. 

You may be wondering why the celebration begins in the middle of September, and the reason is that it coincides with independence days in several Latin American countries. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica all celebrate their independence on September 15, followed by Mexico on September 16, Chile on September 18, and Belize on September 21.

The Origins of Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month

As mentioned, this celebratory month started as a weeklong celebration that was introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown.

As the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was coming to an end, a growing movement to recognize the contributions of minority populations in America emerged. Because George E. Brown represented East L.A., along with the majority of the San Gabriel Valley, (predominantly Latinx communities), he wanted to ensure that these communities received national recognition for the role they played throughout American history. National Hispanic Heritage Week was officially signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 17, 1968.

Many years later, it became clear that one week wasn’t sufficient to recognize and celebrate Hispanic heritage and cultures and the undeniable imprint and impact their contributions have made on America. That’s why in 1987, Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding National Hispanic Heritage week to a monthlong celebration which was signed into law by President Reagan on August 17, 1988. And on September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush officially declared the current 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month

So, why “Latinx”?

While National Hispanic Heritage Month is widely recognized, we choose to use the more inclusive term “Latinx” because it “represent[s] the identities of non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender-expansive people. ‘Latinx’ also centers the lives of indigenous, Brazilian and other non-Spanish speaking people in this celebration.” (HRC)

Interesting Facts About LHHM:

Memorable Latinx & Hispanic Heritage Month quotes: 

  • “You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.” —Cesar Chavez, American labor leader and civil rights activist
  • “There is so much fear and hate. We must negate it with active, courageous love.” —Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, United States Representative (D-NY)
  • “We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things. That is what we are put on the earth for.” —Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist
  • “The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.” —Carlos Santana, American guitarist
  • “You are not lucky to be here. The world needs your perspective. They are lucky to have you.” —Antonio Tijerino, President & CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

This month and beyond, remember that Latinx history is American history.