History of Hispanic Heritage Month

McKayla Clarksnodgrass, Photo Editor

For the past two weeks across the United States of America, people have been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

The 30 day celebration — which started Sept. 15 and lasts until Oct. 15 — is an annual celebration of the history and culture of the people whose ancestors came from various Hispanic countries in the U.S. originally started as a week. 

Hispanic Heritage Week began under the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. This week-long celebration later turned into a month-long celebration in 1988 under the presidency of Ronald Reagan with Public Law 100-402, according to hispanicheritagemonth.gov.

For the past 30 years, presidents have issued annual announcements for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Some important Hispanic figures in U.S. history are César Chávez, a civil rights activist, and Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic American woman to go into space. A more current Hispanic figure is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a U.S. congresswoman.

The celebration starts on Sept. 15 , the independence day of a few Latin American countries such as El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. It also covers the independence days of other countries such as Mexico, Chile and Belize. Mexico gained independence on Sept. 16, Chile gained independence on Sept. 18 and Belize gained independence on Sept. 21, according to history.com.

Another notable holiday that falls within the 30-day celebration is Columbus Day. This holiday is on Oct. 12 this year, and it celebrates when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas. Columbus’ voyage — which was to find a shorter route to Asia — was funded by Spain.

Hispanic Heritage Month is meant to celebrate the culture and contributions of the Hispanic community within the U.S. There are many ways people celebrate the month; you can find a way to celebrate you like and go with it. You can learn about important Hispanic figures in U.S. history and recognize the many contributions made by Hispanic people.