Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 – October 15  to recognize the experiences of Hispanics and Latinos, and Americans who trace their origins to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, and their many contributions to the history, society and culture of the United States. The Hispanic/Latinx community is not a homogenous group; rather it is incredibly diverse. Some have origins in indigenous communities, others trace their origins to ancestors who were colonizers from Europe, slaves from Africa or immigrants from many countries worldwide, resulting in a wide array of languages and cultures. The US Census Bureau introduced the term Hispanic in 1970, after activists advocated for the category to classify Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants; currently, both Hispanics and Latinos are counted in this category. 

The first proclamation for National Hispanic Heritage week was issued in mid-September, 1968, by President Lyndon Johnson. This time was chosen as September 15th marks Independence Day for the Latin American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, September 16th for Mexico and September 16th for Chile. The tradition of a week-long celebration continued annually till 1988 when President Ronald Reagan extended it to a month-long celebration.  The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers (CEHEPM) has chosen “Todos Somos, Somos Uno: We Are All, We Are One” as the theme for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, encouraging everyone to ensure that all voices are represented and welcomed to help build stronger communities and a stronger nation. The theme for this year’s observances at Penn State is “Nuestra Comunidad Latina*: Celebrating a Thriving Community” chosen by the University Park Hispanic Heritage Month organizing committee. 

Currently, 18.9% of the US population, or 63.7 million people, are of Hispanic or Latino origin, making this group the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority. The Hispanic/Latinx community has a long history in the United States, including through founding the first European settlement - a Spanish settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, in September 1565. Further, many Mexicans began living in the United States overnight, when the 1848 treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo took the southwestern part was taken away from Mexico to become a part of the United States. The Hispanic/Latinx community has tremendous diversity in immigration history – some are first-generation immigrants, while others have been here for five or more generations or beyond. At Penn State, Hispanic/Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alumni have a rich history of shaping our institution and experiences, and inspiring and empowering all our communities within and beyond the university. Many local communities are also celebrating the month -- the Borough of State College and Centre County Government issued proclamations commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month, and a Happy Valley Latin Festival will be held Oct 7 at the MLK plaza in Downtown State College. 

What we can do: