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Why Hispanic
Heritage Month?

Respectfully, we would choose to answer this question simply 
- why not Hispanic Heritage Month.

This website is maintained by the Hispanic Alliance in South Carolina, and we believe all people deserve to be celebrated and our cultural diversity should be an ally in our united purpose to pursue an improved quality of life in the United States.

More specifically, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. The month-long celebration coincides with the independence days of Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Belize.

 

The celebration began in 1968, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was made a month-long celebration in 1988 by the U.S. Congress. 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the myriad of cultures within Central and Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries, and the contributions of those peoples to America.

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50+ years of Celebrating Contributions

This month-long celebration actually began as a commemorative week. In 1968, California Congressman George E. Brown first introduced the idea, and the civil rights movement in the 1960s helped to cultivate awareness of the United States’ vibrant diversity of cultures.

Brown, who represented East Los Angeles and a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley — both heavily populated by members of the Hispanic and Latinx communities — wanted to recognize the role played by those communities throughout American history.

 

On September 17, 1968, Congress passed Public Law 90-48, officially authorizing and requesting the president to issue annual proclamations declaring September 15 and 16 to mark the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Week and called upon the “people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first Hispanic Heritage Week presidential proclamation the same day.

 

From 1968 until 1988, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan all issued yearly proclamations, setting aside a week to honor Hispanic Americans. In 1987 U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding the observance to cover its current 31-day period. Representative Torres wanted more time so that the nation could learn and experience Hispanic and Latinx culture.

“We want the public to know that we share a legacy with the rest of the country, a legacy that includes artists, writers, Olympic champions, and leaders in business, government, cinema, and science.”
U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres, California

In 1988, Senator Paul Simon (D-Illinois), submitted a similar bill that successfully passed Congress and was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on August 17, 1988. And on September 14, 1989, President George H.W. Bush (who had been a sponsor of the original Hispanic Heritage Week resolution while serving in the House in 1968) became the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“Not all of the contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our society are so visible or so widely celebrated, however. Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation beyond measure with the quiet strength of closely knit families and proud communities.” 
U.S. President, George H.W. Bush

In the decades since, National Hispanic Heritage Month proclamations have been made by every sitting president of the United States.

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Generations of Hispanic Americans have enriched our nation by making contributions in science, education, the arts, and politics.

Did you know?

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In 2020, Hispanics made up nearly one-in-five people (19%) in the United States

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62 million

18.7%

of the total population

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352,840

6.9%

of the total population

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58,0285

11%

of the total population