Since 1988, the United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The month honors the history of and contributions made by Americans who are of Hispanic or Latin descent.
Initially established as Hispanic Heritage Week, the celebration was extended to a month by President Ronald Reagan. According to HispanicHeritageMonth.gov, the dates of the month-long celebration have been strategically placed to overlap with independence anniversaries for numerous Latin American countries. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua celebrate their independence from Spain on Sept. 15, while Mexico celebrates on Sept. 16, and Chile on Sept. 18.
Día de la Raza, or “day of the race,” also falls in the Hispanic Heritage Month window on Oct. 12, a holiday that honors and celebrates the countries, people, traditions, and cultures that were colonized and damaged during the Spanish Conquest.
“This holiday celebrates and honors the many countries and people that were conquered by Spain and other European explorers,” Patricia Ann Talley wrote for the magazine Imagine Mexico. “’Día de la Raza’ is celebrated in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Uruguay. Many countries have given the day other names, such as ‘Hispanic Heritage Day’ in Spain, ‘Respect to Cultural Diversity Day’ in Argentina, or ‘Indigenous Resistance Day’ in Nicaragua and Venezuela.”
Take some time this month to explore the many ways Americans of Hispanic or Latin descent have contributed to the United States’ diverse culture by exploring foods from Central and South American countries, reading books written by Hispanic and Latinx authors, and appreciating the art, music, and dance of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. You can even take a virtual tour of the National Museum of the American Latino’s exhibit, “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States.”
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States gives Hispanic Americans a time to honor their history, ethnic background, and traditions, and non-Hispanic Americans an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the cultures around them. Throughout this month Americans of all cultures come together to celebrate the impact Hispanic Americans have had on their shared country.
With more than 62 million people of Hispanic descent─about 19% of the country’s overall population─ who call the United States home, Hispanic Heritage Month is an important celebration for this country and is essential in getting the full picture of what it means to be American.
Students, faculty, staff, and community members are encouraged to join the Lees-McRae Office of Inclusive Excellence for an evening of fun for all ages in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Join us in food, community, culture, and more on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. in Evans Auditorium.
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