• Mayuri Chaudhuri

National Hispanic Heritage Month - The History Behind The Celebration

Updated: 6 days ago

The National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated in the United States spans from 15 September to 15 October, commemorating the contributions of Hispanic communities. It also marks the independence of Latin American countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and others. Adding to that, it also honors the 16th and 18th of September, which are Mexico's and Chile's independence days, respectively.


A couple of hispanic women dancing on the street wearing traditional costumes

Streets brimming with the vibrant joy of Hispanic literature, the culture of dance and music, and the glory would make you wonder what the story behind this carnival is. Let's explore why.


Who are Hispanic Latinx people?


People with Spanish ancestry are referred to as Hispanics. Latinx people, on the other hand, are people who were born in Latin America. According to Census estimates, the United States has approximately 62.1 million Hispanic Latinx people.


A hispanic boy holding a flag at a rally.
A hispanic boy holding a flag at a rally. (Steve Schapiro/Getty)

They are also one of the oldest ancestral groups to arrive in the country. The Hispanic population predominates in the American Southwest, which was previously colonized by the Spanish, whereas Latinx immigrants settled in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area after the Mexican-American war.


What is the History of the Hispanic Heritage Month?


Hispanic Heritage Week was established as a result of sponsorship by Rep. Edward R. Roybal. After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the petition in 1968, it became law. President Ronald Reagan then expanded the festival to 30 days, from September 15 to October 15.


Although it was first proposed by a California congressman named George E. Brown, the campaign to recognize the Latinx community during the civil rights movement in the 1960s sparked a lot of concern in the aftermath of the country's rising multiculturalism.


The Chicano Movement.
The Chicano Movement. (Getty Images)

The Latin Civil Rights Movement began in the early 1900s when Mexican-Americans were subjected to a state-sanctioned mass campaign. They were forced to fight for equal employment, housing, education, and other essential rights. Despite a tumultuous history of struggle and protests, Hispanic Heritage Month has served as a shining example of honor for both the designated communities and the United States.


This timeline's military significance is also crucial. The United States pays its respects to the fallen armed Hispanic active-duty soldiers. Medals of Honor have been given to 61 of them. Their presence in the armed forces is extraordinary, with a concentration of 16 percent.


Hispanic Heritage Month has been recognized and honored by the Presidents of the United States. Annual proclamations have been issued by presidents such as Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. On September 14th, 1989, President George W. Bush announced Presidential Proclamation 6021 to commemorate the Hispanic memorial.


How is the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrated?


Northwest Arkansas Hispanic Heritage Festival is an annual fair held in Arkansas that is a free family education and entertainment offering fete. It was first established by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce in 2013.


Varied activities can be seen at play in the fair such as arts & crafts, soccer tournaments, children’s play areas, dance contests, and parades. The rich flavors of Hispanic cuisine are some unmistakable takeaways.


The Hispanic fair at Fayetteville.
The Hispanic fair at Fayetteville. (livability.com)

El Barrio Latin Jazz Festival was founded by Jeremy Vega, who is also a former alliance member in 2016, in the Bronx, New York City. This festival revolves around Latin music and celebrating the rhythm that Hispanics feel homely with.


The National Museum of the American Latino in Washington hosts the Hispanic Heritage Festival entailing a range of lectures, vibrant performances, and family events to attend.


How can we Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?


As can be seen, the Hispanic Latinx community celebrates Heritage Month with pride and color. However, it is also a joyous occasion for the other citizens who enjoy the warmth of the Hispanic culture through live music, dance, food, and culture.


Here are some things that we can try over this month to be one of them :


  • Try Hispanic Cuisine

Hispanic platters rich in distinct spices and flavors might liven up your monotonous diet. Carne Adobada, a fiery Mexican marinated meal served with Adobo (a Mexican sauce), and tacos, a renowned worldwide favorite, may be quickly cooked and served at home using readily available items.


Tacos with salsa
Tacos with salsa. (Betty Crocker)

  • Enjoy Hispanic Music

Did you know that Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, J Balvin, and other famous performers are Hispanic? You can revisit their words throughout the festival to recall happy memories while listening to them and celebrating their history. If you haven't heard any of them yet, start with a diverse Hispanic music playlist and listen to a familiar beat.


  • Support Small Hispanic Latinx Businesses

Making your necessary purchases from small Hispanic - Latinx business owners can be the ideal way to celebrate the month from the comfort of your own home during the pandemic's age. This might be your everyday groceries or a piece of beautiful jewelry you've had your eye on for a long time.


  • Learn Hispanic Dances

Hispanic dance forms such as the Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Rumba are vibrant and entertaining to learn. You can enroll in weekly lessons throughout the month to learn about quick moves and how to enjoy them.


Hispanic Latinx people dancing their traditional form of dance


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Mayuri Chaudhuri is an Indian-based History Honors Graduate and a Content Writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability, who is seeking cognizance to varied issues in the world through the power of a pen.


Inputs and Edits by Aswin Raghav R.