Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrating Today's America

By Mendoza, Sylvia | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, September/October 2018 | Go to article overview

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebrating Today's America


Mendoza, Sylvia, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


The first Latina astronaut was Ellen I Ochoa, a Stanford graduate and I inventor for NASA. Joaquin and Julian Castro, brothers from San Antonio, served as U.S. Representative and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, respectively. Sonia So-tomayor is the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. Gloria and Emilio Estefan from the famed Miami Sound Machine have sold 100 million records and now own their own recording studio. She received the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to American music. These are just a few Hispanics that have made their mark on American culture. Every September, however, hundreds of Latinos in the United States are celebrated in what has become known as Hispanic Heritage Month. From September 15 to October 16, Hispanic Heritage Month is just one way to highlight, celebrate and recognize the contributions of Latinos to mainstream American - from the sciences and politics to the arts and activism and sports to education.

It is a time to share traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean. The month also recognizes the independence days of five Latin American countries.

In a time of misguided media stereotypes and negative news coverage, Hispanic Heritage Month is also a chance to educate and correct misrepresentations and misconceptions of Hispanics.

"Organic conversation is binding," said Cynthia Pleitez, marketing & social media strategist at Velazquez Press, an authority in dual language programs and biliteracy in America that also launches culturally-relevant and educational Hispanic Heritage Month public awareness campaigns on social media. "What Hispanic Heritage Month is not is a sombrero-wearing, half-off drinks, all-you can eat buffet or promotion. It all starts with honest dialogue.

"It's important for the general public to know that Hispanic Heritage Month is about cultural pride and solidarity through understanding and celebration of our unique contributions through food, music, literature and the arts. We're 58 million+ threads woven into the great fabric of this country."

Hispanic Heritage Month Origin

Hispanic Heritage Month started 50 years ago as Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1968, Congress passed "Public Law 90-498," which "authorized and requested the U.S. president issue an annual proclamation designating the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week.. .and calling upon the people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities."

It spotlighted and celebrated Hispanic Americans for their achievements and contributions to the United States. In a gesture of goodwill, it also celebrates and brings to light the independence days of Latin American countries that fell during the week. These include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Mexico and Chile.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first to announce the proclamation for Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968.

In 1988, Public Law 100-402 was passed by Congress, amending Public Law 90-498 and establishing National Hispanic Heritage Month instead, starting September 15 and lasting 31 days. President George H. W. Bush was the first to make this proclamation.

Each president can add his/her own special touch to the annual proclamation. …

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