Updated: Sep 23, 2021
In the United States, the dates between September 15 and October 15 annually have been designated National Hispanic Heritage Month. This national designation began with a bill sponsored by Hispanic American Edward R. Roybal, a US representative from California, and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968.
Image from HispanicHeritageMonth.org
This celebration of Hispanic American achievement and contribution began as a week-long designation, then was extended to a full month under legislation signed by Ronald Reagan.
September 15 is a date that holds special significance as it is the anniversary of independence celebrated by five countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), with 3 other countries celebrating independence from colonial rule over the next week (Mexico on the 16th, Chile on the 18th, and Belize on the 21st).
In the United States, people of Hispanic or Latin descent constitute the largest minority population. Thus it is unsurprising that the contributions of Hispanic Americans across the spectrum of arts, science, law, and industry would be immense and indelible on the American landscape.
The US government has created a website in celebration of these contributions, in conjunction with the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, and others. The National Hispanic Heritage Month website states:
"We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic American champions who have inspired others to achieve success. Discover documents, exhibits, films, blog posts, and more from the National Archives and Presidential Libraries that highlight Hispanic culture."
The online exhibits and collections available to view are impressive in scope and subject matter. You can access the collections online here, including resources for teachers, and online events that will be taking place over the course of the month.
With a rise in nationalism, xenophobia, and hatred trending worldwide, it is incredibly important that we break down barriers created by stereotypes, fear, or lack of interaction with other cultures. Spending time reading, listening, and appreciating the rich cultural contributions of our Hispanic American friends and neighbors fights against these impulses and can help unite us.
We invite you to take some time over this next month and intentionally seek out ways in which you can broaden your understanding of the Hispanic American lived experience. Hispanic Americans are not a monolith, so the more varied voices we listen to, the richer our understanding.
For a list of recommended reading by Latinx authors, Penguin Random House has compiled this collection.
For a list of must-read books by Chicanx, Mexican, and Mexican American Authors, Penguin Random House compiled this list.
You can find additional categories of Hispanic and Latinx books broken down by genre, such as fiction, non-fiction and memoirs, classics, books for young readers, recipe books, etc on their page I am La Cultura.