Maybe you first heard about National Hispanic Heritage Month from a friend or scrolled across an informational post about it on social media. You're familiar with the celebratory month, but if you had to take a pop quiz on the subject? Let's just say... you probably wouldn't walk out with an A+.
That's okay—learning about the history and significance of different cultural celebrations isn't an overnight process; it's an ongoing one. But, being interested in educating yourself about the contributions made by different groups of people is an important first step to create a society built on mutual respect and admiration for different races, ethnicities, religions, and more.
These facts about National Hispanic Heritage Month will not only deepen your knowledge of this celebration, but enrich your life overall:
National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 and ends on October 15.
This year, the National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (NCHEPM) announced that the Hispanic Heritage Month Observance Theme was "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation." The 2022 theme "encourages us to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation," the NCHEPM said in a statement. Ms. Ily Soares, a supervisory accountant at Farm Credit Administration (FCA), submitted the winning theme.
In June 1968, California Congressman George E. Brown first introduced Hispanic Heritage Week to commemorate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans, according to History.com.
In 1987, U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California proposed expanding the week-long observance to a month. He wanted more time to allow the nation to "properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement."
President George H.W. Bush was the first president to declare the 31-day period from September 15 to October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month. (Bonus fact: He was a sponsor of the original 1968 Hispanic Heritage Week resolution while serving in the House of Representatives.)
National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 because it coincides with the national independence days for many Latin American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Mexico's national independence day follows on the 16th, while Chile's occurs on the 18th, and Belize's is on the 21st.
Each year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) organizes the Annual Awards Gala, a keystone event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in Washington, D.C. From 1979 to 2016, every sitting U.S. President was invited to address the gala, and only former President George H.W. Bush was unable to attend during his time in office. (In 2017, CHCI didn’t invite former President Donald Trump after he pardoned Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and announced a plan to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, The Hill reported.) President Joe Biden will attend the 45th annual gala this year, according to The Hill.
The U.S. Hispanic population reached 62.6 million in July 2021, the United States Census Bureau reports. With this most recent data, Hispanic-identifying people make up the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority at 18.9 percent.
Americans of Mexican origin account for nearly 62 percent (37.2 million people) of the nation’s overall Hispanic population as of 2019, per Pew Research Center.
The second largest group are Americans of Puerto Rican origin with 5.8 million people. Another 3.3 million people live on Puerto Rico as of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, though the number of people moving from Puerto Rico to the 50 states and the District of Columbia has been increasing recently.
Americans with origins in Cuba, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras each have a population of roughly 1 million or more as of 2018.
The month is celebrated nationwide through festivals, parades, art shows, conferences, community gatherings, and much more.
The Hispanic Society of America hosts multiple events and activities—virtual and in-person—to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Anyone can celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and show their appreciation for Hispanic and Latino Americans by reading books by authors of Hispanic or Latino origin, watching movies about Hispanic and Latino culture, and going to local events that celebrate the contributions of Hispanic and Latino people have made to U.S. society.
More than 20 million Latino people identified as multiracial on the 2020 census, up from just 3 million in 2010, according to Pew Research Center. The increase is thought to be due to multiple factors, including growing racial diversity and changes to the census form that made it easier to identify with multiple races.
Thirteen states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington—had a population of 1 million or more Hispanic residents in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Hispanic people have become the largest racial or ethnic group in California. This demographic milestone first occurred in 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported, and in 2020, there were about 15.6 million Hispanic people in California, up from 14 million in 2010.
The fastest population growth among Latino Americans is from people with origins in Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras, according to Pew Research Center. By far the fastest growth rate is the Venezuelan population in the U.S., which increased 126 percent from 2010 to 2019. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan and Honduran populations increased 49 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
Four out of five Latinos (80 percent) are U.S. citizens as of 2019, per Pew Research Center. This includes people born in the U.S. and its territories (including Puerto Rico), those born abroad to American parents, and immigrants who have become naturalized citizens.
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