Más de un Mes: ​The importance of Hispanic Heritage Month

Más de un Mes: ​The importance of Hispanic Heritage Month

Gabriella Diaz-Archilla

Hispanic Heritage Month was brought about in June, 1968 by George E. Brown; an ex-Congressman, and previously lasted only one week. Today, this annual celebration spans from September 15 to October 15 and celebrates the influence and contributions that Hispanic/Latino communities and people have instilled into the United States’s melting pot of culture.

This national holiday gave way during the Civil Rights movement’s peak because Brown wanted to give Hispanics proper recognition for their actions and achievements in a time of awareness for different cultures. The official request to declare September 15 and 16 as the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Week was sent on September 17, 1968, and was issued by President Johnson the same day. The timing of this was not ironic, but had a direct connection with the Independence day of the Central American countries; Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Mexico, Belize, and Nicaragua.

The transition to lengthen the celebration from a week to a month long took place in 1988. The bill was submitted by Senator Paul Simon and was issued as a month-long by President Ronald Reagan, being put in place by President George W. Bush on September 14, 1989. Following this, National Hispanic Month Proclamations have been made by every President of the United States.

The U.S. government website has a calendar with events that aims to highlight the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month by providing festivities and events for those to attend in celebration. There are not many specific traditions that Hispanics during this time, but they do share the food, culture, and music of their countries with others.

As a fellow Hispanic, the creation of this holiday allows me to feel as though my voice is being heard and my culture appreciated. The recognition of the accomplishments and the impact that Hispanics have had on society, as well as the shaping of this country, is comforting to see. It gives me hope for my future endeavours, which can in turn spread to future generations.In times of doubt, when I am feeling underappreciated as a person of color, I can look to this month and realize that this country could not have become what it is today without the enrichment of outside cultures. This celebration makes me feel recognized for all that my people have overcome to be in the positions that we are today.

Many people are honored for paving the path for Hispanic youth to make their way up in society and take pride in where they come from, while gaining recognition in the fields of entertainment, politics, sports, activism, and more. Sonio Sotomayor is one of these people. Being the first Latina Supreme Court justice, she is not only an inspiration to me, but to Hispanic women everywhere because she overcame a lot of obstacles and understands what it’s like to feel underrepresented in society.

As stated by Sotomayor, “I am a product of affirmative action. I am the perfect affirmative action baby. I am Puerto Rican, born and raised in the South Bronx. My test scores were not comparable to my colleagues at Princeton and Yale. Not so far off so that I wasn’t able to succeed at those institutions.” She emphasizes the fact that she may not have been the most intelligent of her peers, but she still achieved what little she could and is proud to call her a Latina.

Hispanic Heritage Month is greatly admired by the Hispanic/Latino community because it gives them a chance to reflect on how their achievements have shaped this country and commemorate those that were fearless enough to take positions of power and represent Hispanics at the highest levels. Communities are brought together during this time through language and the celebration of what makes them unique.

The creation of this holiday was truly a turning point for those affected by it because it gave them a sense of hope that they could succeed in a world where a majority of the leaders that they see do not look like them.