Friday, May 17, 2024

From idea to tradion: The evolution of National Hispanic Heritage Month


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Featured Graphic by Destiny Mizell

Story by Larry Rincon

For more than fifty years, Americans have been observing National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15.  What originally started off as a one week observation has grown and developed into a month-long celebration for the successes, contributions, history and culture of Hispanic Americans. 

The celebration is meant to celebrate citizens whose ancestry traces back to Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America. 

Becoming a One Month Celebration

During the 1960s the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak. The African American movement inspired a lot of different minorities to assemble, including the Chicano Movement. 

Hispanic Heritage Month was first introduced in June 1968 by California congressman, George E. Brown. The celebration then officially passed into law by Congress on September 17 that same year as a week-long observation starting September 15. 

Eventually the week-long observation got expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. On August 17, 1988 the newly enacted law stated the celebration would cover a 30-day period starting September 15 until October 15. However, it wasn’t until the following year when President George H.W. Bush called upon the observation as Hispanic Heritage Month that the celebration adopted its name. Important Celebration Dates 

During the 30-day period a lot of independence dates for different countries are celebrated. Countries that celebrate their independence on September 15 include: 

● Costa Rica 

● El Salvador 

● Guatemala 

● Honduras 

● Nicaragua 

Independence dates that fall outside of that date include Mexico on September 16, Chile on September 18 and Belize on September 21. 

September 16 is also the anniversary for the Cry of Dolores or “Grito de Dolores,” which played a crucial part in the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. 

Other important days include Día de la Raza on October 12 and Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Day. 

How is it Celebrated? 

Across the country, museums and libraries offer programs and resources to honor Hispanic and Latinx communities. Even television channels such as PBS are celebrating the month with brand new programs and digital activation. However, every year the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers, or the NCHEPM, chooses a theme and a corresponding poster that federal agencies will use during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

This year the theme is “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progres in America.” The theme is meant to pay tribute to the increasing population, political representation and economic successes made by Hispanics.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on X at @MTSUSidelines.

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