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Why Is Hispanic Heritage Month Split Across Two Months?

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

By Melanie Paredes | October 15, 2021

October 15th is the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the culture of Hispanic-Americans. This raises the question: why is Hispanic Heritage Month split across two months?

Numerous history months begin on the 1st of a particular month and end on the 30th or 31st, while Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th and ends on October 15th. It seems arbitrary to say, “Hispanic Heritage Month” when Hispanic-American history is celebrated in both September and October. However, there is a significant historical background for the starting date of September 15th.

According to the Library of Congress, “the day of September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th, respectively”. If Hispanic Heritage Month began on the 1st of September, it wouldn’t be properly commemorating Latin American countries’ freedom from European colonialism. By starting the thirty-day period on the anniversary of September 15th, Americans become more enlightened on the history of Latinos who have made innumerable contributions to this country.

In fact, the creation of a month to honor Hispanic-American history occurred at a time period where Latinos were fighting against discrimination like school segregation, threats of deportation, and a belief that there was a lack of intelligence if one couldn’t speak English. Advocating for more recognition of Hispanic history in the United States, in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill to create National Hispanic Heritage Week that began on September 15th. He wrote about recognizing “the great contribution to our national heritage made by our people of Hispanic descent -- not only in the fields of culture, business, and science, but also through their valor in battle”(CNN). 20 years later, President Ronald Reagan extended National Hispanic Heritage Week to the month as it stands today.

The celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is essential for this nation. Latinos still face immense discrimination, often being told to “go back to your country”, despite the fact that many Latinos have helped the United States develop since its beginning. When people think of Hispanic Heritage Month, they are led to the fact that Hispanic-American history is American history. The stereotypes that Latinos face daily are diminished by a time dedicated to respect Latinos for who they truly are.

Therefore, it is integral that Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15th.


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