National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 and will run through October 15, giving us an opportunity to recognize and celebrate members of our communities and their ancestors who hail from Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain.
“The Latino community and Latino history is a fundamental part of American history,” said Emily Key, director of education at the Smithsonian Latino Center. “And recognizing that and understanding that are key reasons why this month is important.”
Here’s why America commemorates Hispanic Heritage Month and what you should know about it.
Rather than starting at the beginning of September, Hispanic Heritage Month takes place over 30 days starting on the 15th — a nod to the anniversaries of national independence for a number of Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. All recognize September 15 as the date of their independence, while Mexico’s independence is celebrated September 16 and Chile celebrates its independence September 18.
Hispanic Heritage Month traces its history to 1968 when the observance was just a week long. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill designating the week of September 15 as “National Hispanic Heritage Week,” according to the Office of the Historian and the Office of Art & Archives for the US House of Representatives. It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later that Hispanic Heritage Week was lengthened to an entire month under President Ronald Reagan.
Hispanic and Latino Population
The 2020 US Census showed that Hispanics and Latinos make up a fast-growing, multiracial group. In 2020, 18% of the US population (62.1 million people) identified as Hispanic or Latino. That number had grown 23% since 2010. The state of Delaware is home to approximately 83,000 Hispanic/Latino residents, which account for 9% of the state’s population. Out of the 83,000 Hispanics in Delaware, 73% of the population are U.S.-born, while 27% are foreign-born. A total of 60% of the Hispanic population in Delaware are nationalities other than Mexican. While 40% of the Hispanic population is of Mexican origin.
The YMCA of Delaware celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
There are many ways we can acknowledge Hispanic Heritage Month. We can engage with books, films, and documentaries highlighting Hispanic heritage, and we can support local Hispanic/Latino businesses and restaurants. This year at the YMCA of Delaware, we are recognizing our staff and members who are of Hispanic/Latino heritage, learning Spanish, and discovering new books written by some of our favorite authors.