Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually in the U.S., from September 15th to October 15th. Although I’ve been aware of the observation for several years, I have not done anything in particular in past years. In Hampton Roads, during festival season, we have several Latinx/Hispanic celebrations and other community cultural events throughout the year. Another reason is that a lot of my focus as a Black American is on Black culture and history. However, as an educator and the Executive Director of an organization supporting diversity and inclusion, I wanted to do more this year.
According to the About page on hispanicheritagemonth.gov,
“The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.
The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.”
I find the mention of Columbus Day odd but expected. Also, on the main page, it notes that the month celebrates the positive contributions of Hispanics. Who decides if a contribution is positive? Why aren’t we celebrating all of Latinx/Hispanic culture and history? And why does the word positive even need to be added?
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. Maybe not.
Remezcla, an online creative collective about Latinx culture, has a great article about Hispanic Heritage Month. The article gives background and shares quotes with differing perspectives. You can view it here.
NY Times, El Espace column asks if Hispanic Heritage Month needs rebranding here.
And NPR’s Codeswitch interviewed Cristina Mora about how the term Hispanic came to be.
Prefer video? Check out the Cracked explanation of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Here are some educational resources about Hispanic Heritage Month and I will be sharing book reviews throughout the month. If you would like to share a resource or perspective, you can leave it in the comments below.
- Norfolk Public Library booklist: http://bookdb.nextgoodbook.com/booklist/w/62eb0f4b77826b37a0ef855d6210e690/l/181583
- New books from Latino authors https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/15-great-new-books-latinos-hispanic-heritage-month-n1052451
- Activities and resources from spanishmama.com
(please use wisely, respecting the culture and learning about cultural ideas in-depth)
- Teaching tools from National Endowment for the Humanities, Edsite
- Resources from PBS
- Lesson plans and resources from the Anti-Defamation League