As the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, many might wonder why this observance begins in the middle of September rather than on the first day of the month, as seen with other commemorative months like Black History Month (starting on February 1) or Women's History Month (beginning on March 1). The answer to this question is rooted in a rich historical tapestry that reflects the struggle for recognition, independence, and the contributions of Hispanic Americans.
The history of Hispanic Heritage Month dates back to 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill into law. This bill authorized the president to designate the week of September 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Week. The aim was to draw attention to the remarkable contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States. It was a time when Latinos began to organize for civil equality and justice, inspired by the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Black leaders.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan extended this observation from a single week to a month, providing a more comprehensive platform to honor and celebrate the Hispanic heritage.
But why September 15? The answer lies in the significance of this date for more than half a dozen Latin American countries. On or around September 15, several nations celebrate their hard-fought independence from Spanish colonial rule. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all declared their independence on September 15, 1821, marking a pivotal moment in their histories. Mexico follows closely behind, celebrating its independence on September 16, while Chile commemorates its own independence on September 18.
Furthermore, October 12, 1492, a date that falls within this 30-day period, holds immense historical significance. It marks Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, an expedition financed by Spain, which ultimately initiated the European colonization of the New World.
Well, there may be many reasons for the month being decided for celebrations. But above all, it is a tribute to the shared journey of independence and the ongoing pursuit of equality and recognition for all Hispanic Americans.