September 15, 2019 to October 15, 2019 is Hispanic (or Latino/Latinx) Heritage Month. Hispanic heritage is wide and deep, and holds within it the incredible flavors, colors, music and more that have become an essential part of American culture.
With almost 60 million Americans reporting Hispanic heritage in the 2018 US Census, it’s important to focus our attention on the historical and ongoing contributions of the Latinx community to American life. The art, language, sports, food, science, and business contributions of the Latin American community have made our country stronger, and it’s important to take these next few weeks to note them.
Unlike other commemorative months, Hispanic Heritage Month starts in the middle of the month. This is to note the significance of Sept. 15 and 16, which are the days of independence for the countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Originally designated as a special week by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the celebration was extended to a month by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.
The cultures of Latin America, Spain and the Caribbean contribute rich traditions to our everyday lives. These cultural additions are sometimes reduced to a shell of their origins, so it is important to have a designated time for Americans to take a closer look at them. It’s especially important for the youth of America to connect with their own heritage and the long history behind their own families and culture.
Many organizations are offering education to Latinx and other community members this month. There may be celebrations, talks, and demonstrations in your area. Look for ways to learn and connect with “la cultura” (the culture). Here are some resources that promote the health, education and professional development of the Latinx community.
Latino Outdoors: an organization that organizes free outdoor activities to re-introduce the Latinx community to the outdoors, and promotes advocacy for and connectedness to public natural spaces.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund: completing a higher education is the dream of many Latinx students and their families. The HSF provides services and support for the dreamers of this nation.
NALEO Educational Fund: A non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to Latinx participation in the American political landscape, involvement in civic life and promoting policies that advance Latinx progress.
The Association of Hispanic Professionals. An organization whose mission is to be a “leading catalyst for Hispanic professional achievement.” They host annual career conferences, connect students to graduate programs and offer scholarships, and serve all Hispanic professionals to help them achieve their full economic, educational and social potential. Many more organizations dedicated to the Latinx community can be found online. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a list of some Latinx websites that provide information and support to the Latinx community.
Here’s another list of 21 Latino Organizations You Need to Know.
Take this month as a reminder to celebrate Hispanic Heritage all year round. It’s an opportunity to remind us of the essential contributions of Latinx here and world-wide, and how our country would not be the same without la cultura Hispanica!