Hispanic Herritage Month

Ariel Lara, Photographer

An important one month celebration has finally arrived.  Hispanic and Latino Americans across the nation are excited to once again embrace and educate others about the achievements and contributions they have made and are continuing to make to American society, along with sharing the importance of their cultures. Latino/a’s and Hispanics represent a large part of our population; making up an estimated 18.5% total in the U.S, referring to them as the largest ethnic minority in the country. 


Let’s start off by recognizing what’s the difference between Hispanic and  Latino/a since they’re both terms that are used interchangeably. Hispanics are people who come from or are a descendant of a Spanish-speaking country. Latino/a’s are people who are from Latin America, which includes the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.   


The creation of this special celebration first started when President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the National Hispanic Heritage Week bill in 1968. From then on, future changes were made by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, expanding the one week celebration into a month-long celebration that starts from September 15th to October 15th.


Reasoning being as to why this occasion officially starts in the middle of the month on the 15th, is because it was the day that Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua gained independence. A day after is Mexico’s Independence Day; September 16th, then two days later on the 18th is Chile’s Independence Day. The history, accomplishments, and variety of cultures are all honored by American citizens of people who came from or whose ancestors came from these Hispanic countries. 

You may be thinking, “What are some achievements that have been made by these individuals?” Hispanics and Latinos have contributed and built upon many different aspects in America; Building the West, providing advances in the medical field, creating entertainment, becoming famous journalists, and also having a growing success in businesses. Some important individuals that have made contributions for their heritage are Ildura Murillo-Rohde and Yalitza Aparicio. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, a legendary nurse, changed the perspectives of nursing, creating an organization that encouraged Hispanics to join nursing as well since she didn’t see many of her kind in the medical field. First Indegenous Mexican performer, Yalitza Aparicio, had her first big spark in the film Roma. Aparicio never imagined herself making it through the cinematic field, but she gave an audition that was worth a shot. Unexpectedly receiving the role as Cleo in Roma and being the first Indigeneous Mexican woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar had such a big impact not only for Aparicio, but also for the younger generations. Big professions don’t come to many children’s minds who come from a poor background because they doubt themselves so much and don’t see it as a possibility to achieve. After hearing the exciting news about Aparicio’s achievement, young children were inspired and motivated to reach their goals, seeing someone a part of their community achieve something that was never done before. Hispanic and Latino’s hard work is important to be shared with the world, proving the stereotypical assumptions wrong of how they aren’t able to achieve anything most times. Both groups are successful more than anyone could ever think. 


There are a variety of choices on how you can celebrate this occasion; attending community gatherings, parades, festivals, art shows, educating yourself on Latino/a history, supporting local Latino/a businesses, or most importantly focusing on organizations that advocate for Hispanic/Latine rights. One way Downey High School is celebrating is by gathering all musicians, dancers, artists, and poets to perform during lunch time to express their creativity with everyone. 


Most people don’t really know that there’s a Hispanic Heritage Month, which is why it’s important to spread awareness and attention to these individuals for how much they’ve given and are continuing to give for society. With others being educated on this celebration, it creates a strong tension of heartfulness for Hispanics and Latinos knowing that everyone across the world is now familiar with their traditions and determination with their hard work. The recognition of this historical month will never be forgotten.