Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month



National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the culture, heritage, and contributions of Hispanic Americans each year. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 - October 15 each year. The resources provided below are designed to: 

- Extend our collective knowledge of the history and diverse experiences of children and families of Hispanic heritage
- Assist in developing lessons and creating experiences so children have the opportunities to see themselves and learn about the experiences of others in meaningful and authentic ways

A Little History

Hispanic Heritage Month began as a commemorative week when it was introduced in June of 1968 by California Congressman George E. Brown. Representative Brown represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley which were both heavily populated by members of the Hispanic and Latinx communities. He wanted to recognize the influence members of these communities played throughout American history. In September 1968, Congress chose the week including September 15 and 16 National Hispanic Heritage Week to celebrate the contributions and achievements of the diverse cultures within the Hispanic community. 

The dates were chosen to commemorate two key historic events:
- Independence Day, honoring the formal signings of the Act of Independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (September 15, 1821)
- Mexico's Independence Day, which denotes the beginning of the struggle against Spanish control (September 16, 1810)

For 30 years, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan issued yearly proclamations to set aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding the observance from a week to a month. He wanted to increase the time the country could "properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement."

In 1988, Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois) submitted a similar bill that successfully passed Congress and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. On September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush (who had been a sponsor of the original Hispanic Heritage Week resolution while serving in the House in 1968) became the first president to declare the month-long celebration from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Fascinating Facts

- The month aims to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central/South America.
- Hispanic Heritage Month is also referred to as Latinx Heritage Month or Latine Heritage Month. The gender-neutral term Latine is used to describe the full spectrum of the community.
- Hispanic and Latinx are not synonymous- the label "Hispanic" refers to people who speak Spanish and/or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations. This is contrasted by "Latino" (or Latina or Latinx), which refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America.
- According to Pew Research Center findings in 2020, there are about 62.1 million Hispanics in the U.S., making up 19% of the total population. From 2010 to 2020, the U.S. population grew by about 23 million. Hispanics made up 51% of this increase. 
- 18% of the U.S. population is Hispanic, which is the largest ethnic or racial minority in the country.
- While Hispanic and Latinx people have different cultures, the shared language of Spanish unites them. In 2021, Forbes stated that more than 559 million people speak Spanish around the world. Out of that number, 460 million people are native speakers, making it the second largest population of native speakers behind Mandarin. 
- Approximately 6.3% of the North Penn student population is Hispanic/Latinx.

Resources for Students and Families

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