Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor people of Hispanic heritage who have influenced America and the world in a monumental way, and to learn about Hispanic history.
About Hispanic Heritage Month
This observance started as a week in September 1968. Representative Esteban E. Torres proposed the month-long observance in 1987 to “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement.” President George Bush declared the 31-day period in 1989.
Today many people call this cultural moment Latinx Heritage Month to represent non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals and people of Latin American origin.
Understanding cultural terms
The terms Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx refer to a person’s culture or origin.
Latinas and Latinos refer to diverse U.S. communities with Latin American and Caribbean roots. These terms include people with a variety of cultural identities, including African, Asian, European, and Indigenous ancestry.
Some prefer country-based identities, such as Bolivian, Boricua, or Peruvian. The term Hispanic signals connection to Spain.
Spanish is a gendered language. Therefore, the term Latino follows this convention, while Latinx is a gender-neutral and non-binary term.
Civil wars, oppressive governments, and natural disasters are some of the reasons people migrate from Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States. In some cases, U.S. foreign policy contributed to the violence that drove people to move.
In the 1900s, Mexican workers were essential in maintaining railroads, harvesting crops, and mining in the western United States. Those who immigrated impacted many areas of the economy, including fashion, entertainment, farming, and more.
Inventions from Hispanic heritage
The world wouldn’t be the same today without these key inventions from Latinos and those of Hispanic heritage.
- Color TV by Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena of Mexico, an electrical engineer
- Contraceptive pill by Luis Miramontes of Mexico, a 26-year-old doctoral student at the time
- First artificial heart to be successfully implanted into a human, created by Domingo Santo Liotta, born in Argentina
- Patent on “Position, Rotation, and Intensity Invariant Recognizing Method” while studying optical systems, the first Hispanic woman in space, Ellen Ochoa
Ways to celebrate
Here are a few ways to celebrate and honor Hispanic heritage.
- Educate yourself on Hispanic Heritage. Visit HispanicHeritageMonth.gov.
- Explore the newly opened Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino. Check out their online gallery to explore and learn!
- Learn about Mexican Independence Day, marking the historic anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain.
- Support Hispanic-owned businesses.