Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15.

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

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 of 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.

Source: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov

Common Terminology

Hispanic: Relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin American 

Latino(a): A person of Latin American origin or descent 

Latinx: A person of Latin American origin or descent. Used as a gender-neutral or nonbinary alternative to Latino or Latina 

Chicano(a): an American of Mexican origin or descent 

First Generation: designating the first of a generation to become a citizen in a new country 

Definitions from Oxford Languages

Population Statistics



United States: Hispanic or Latino population makes up about 18.9% or about 62.7 million in the United States 

Florida: Hispanic or Latino population makes up about 26.8% or about 5.8 million in Florida 

Orange County: Hispanic or Latino population makes up about 33.1% or about 470,928 in Orange County 

Population statistics based on data from the US Census and the Pew Research Center

Key Dates and Events

  • September 30, 1822: Joseph Marion Hernandez becomes the first Hispanic to serve in Congress served until March 3, 1823. 
  • March 2, 1917: The Jones-Shafroth Act is signed by President Wilson granting US citizenship to Puerto Ricans. 
  • December 7, 1928: Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo becomes the first Hispanic sworn in as Senator of New Mexico. 

Source: New Mexico Historical Society

Source: New Mexico Historical Society 

  • August 4, 1942: The Mexican Farm Labor Agreement is signed by the US and Mexico to allow Mexican agricultural workers to work short-term in the US. 
  • July 2, 1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. One outcome was the end of segregation that affected Black Americans and Mexican-Americans at the time. 
  • March 17, 1966: Cesar Chavez leads a Latino and Filipino farm workers march to demand improved worker conditions. 

Source: Wikimedia Commons

  • September 17, 1968: President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Proclamation 3869 declaring the week beginning September 15th as Hispanic Heritage Week. 
  • March 20, 1973: Roberto Clemente is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously. 
  • August, 17, 1988: Public Law 100-402 was signed into law declaring September 15-October 15 as Hispanic Heritage Month. 
  • September 21, 1988: Dr. Lauro Cavazos becomes the first Hispanic to serve on a presidential cabinet as Secretary of Education. 
  • August 29, 1989: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen becomes the first Hispanic woman to be elected to Congress. 
  • January 22, 1993: Federico Pena, Denver's first Hispanic mayor, becomes the first Hispanic US Secretary of Transportation. 
  • April 8, 1993: Ellen Ochoa becomes the first Hispanic woman in space serving on a 9 day mission on Space Shuttle Discovery. 

Source: NASA

  • January 22, 2003: US Census data establishes Hispanics as the largest minority group in the US with a population of 37 million. 
  • August 8, 2009: Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice and the third woman to serve on the court. 

Latino vs. Latinx

A Pew Research Center survey found that the majority of Latinos have not heard or use the term Latinx but it is a term that is still relatively new. However, the use of the term has increased over the last several years especially among younger Latinos. 

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