How Hispanic Heritage Month Became a Thing


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At Salud America!, we’re excited to discuss Latino health during Hispanic Heritage Month!

This annual U.S. observance, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

How Did Hispanic Heritage Month Start?

U.S. Congressmen Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles and Henry B. Gonzales were among those who introduced legislation on the topic in 1968.

hispanic heritage month week proclamation from LBJ
President Johnson’s Proclamation 3869, National Hispanic Heritage Week, 1968. (Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives)

President Lyndon Johnson implemented the observance as Hispanic Heritage Week that year.

U.S. Rep. Esteban E. Torres of Pico Rivera proposed the observance be expanded to cover its current 30-day period. President Ronald Reagan implemented the expansion to Hispanic Heritage Month.

It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

Learn more at the National Archives.

PBS offers lots of great multimedia content on Hispanic Heritage Month. The U.S. government also runs a website on Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why Is the Date of Hispanic Heritage Month Important?

Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18.

Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30 day period.

What is Salud America! Doing to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Salud America! will create new content around Hispanic Heritage Month.

Here are some of our plans:

  • 17 Awesome Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
  • Hispanic, Latino, Latinx: What’s the Difference?
  • A Guide to Teaching about Hispanic Heritage Month and Health Equity
  • Historical Latino “Salud Heroes”
  • Exploring Important Milestones for U.S. Latinos
  • Exploring the Diversity of the Latino Population
  • Progress on the National American Latino Museum
  • Podcast on COVID-19 and Latinos

In addition, Salud America! will share its other tools and news on Latino health equity.

Health Equity Report Card Covers Social Vulnerability, COVID-19
We updated the Health Equity Report Card in August 2021 to cover social vulnerability and COVID-19.

For example, we recently updated the Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.

First launched in 2017, the Health Equity Report Card auto-generates Latino-focused and local data with interactive maps and comparative gauges. This can help you visualize and explore inequities in housing, transit, poverty, health care, food, and education.

You will see how your county stacks up in these health equity issues — now including social vulnerability and COVID-19 — compared to your state and the nation.

Then you can share the Report Card with your local leaders to advocate for healthy change!

Get your Health Equity Report Card!

What Can You Do to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?

Why not speak up against racism and discrimination?

Decades of unfair social, economic, and political systems have created inequitable communities that are disproportionately impacted by injury, disease, and premature death.

These unfair systems aren’t random. They are rooted in racism.

Systemic racism makes it harder for Latinos and other people of color to get healthcare, housing, transportation, education, employment, healthy food, and more.

Download the free Salud America!Get Your City to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis Action Pack“!

The Action Pack will help you gain feedback from local social justice groups and advocates of color. It will also help you start a conversation with city leaders for a resolution to declare racism a public health issue along with a commitment to take action to change policies and practices. It will also help build local support.


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