We are right in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15th to October 15th. These 31 days are meant to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the U.S.’s largest linguistic and ethnic minority. The month-long homage to the contributions that Hispanics (those who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries) appropriately begins on September 15th, which is Independence Day for five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s Independence Day is September 16th and Chile’s September 18th.
President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the week that includes September 15th and 16th to be National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 and in 1988, the observance was expanded to an entire month. Each year there is a theme, and the theme of 2008 is Getting Involved: Our Families, Our Communities, Our Nation, which was chosen from the top five suggested themes.
Local and federal governments, private industry, community organizations, and media all contribute to the offerings throughout this month and the Internet is a great resource to learn about the impact Hispanics have made on this country as well as events that are happening across the country.
The U.S. Census Bureau provides a great set of statistics on Hispanics in the U.S. in honor of this month in such categories as Population, Businesses, Families, and Jobs. To read the stats and find links to the original sources of information, click here.
The Smithsonian Institute’s list of teaching resources gives a broad set of tools to begin exploring the range of ways that Latinos have contributed to our country.
AOL’s Latino Tu Vida channel is a portal to popular Latino culture with quizzes, info about Latino celebrities, and recipes. To sample these eclectic, entertaining offerings, start here.
These three links are just the beginning to exploring the rich and diverse culture that Hispanics bring to America. With two weeks left to the month-long celebration, try to attend one of the many celebrations and educational events happening across the country.